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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Four Aspects of the Ascension

Fr. Scott Haynes



Glorification. 

When Jesus departed this world on the shekinah cloud,[1] He was going back to the realm of glory. He was going to receive the glory that He enjoyed with the Father from all eternity. That is why, after He ascended, the disciples went back into Jerusalem and praised God in the Temple. As their Master entered heaven’s portal amidst trumpet blasts, they went to the Temple to sing God’s praises.  


Coronation. 

In the Ascension, Jesus went up to His heavenly Coronation. He did not go up simply to enter into His rest. Our Risen ascended to the Throne of His Father, to the right hand of God, where He was invested with dominion, power, and authority over the whole earth. The Lamb of God who was slain was acclaimed as the Lion of Judah[2] to reign over the earth.


The Gift of the Comforter. 

One of the most important reasons for Jesus’ Ascension was that Pentecost might take place, that the Father and the Son might pour out the Spirit on the Church to strengthen[3] it and empower it to preach the Good News.  To witness for Christ in a corrupt world requires strength greater than our own. For the Church to be the visible witness of the invisible kingdom, we need the Holy Spirit.


The Ministry of the High Priest. 

Our great High Priest offered an all-perfect sacrifice for us on the Cross once and for all in His own Blood. That sacrifice is renewed daily in the Holy Sacrifice of Mass. His priestly work for us goes on as He intercedes for us at the right side of the Father. We rejoice that our Eternal High Priest forever stands in the heavenly tabernacle[4] pleading for us as Our Savior and Redeemer.


On the Feast of the Ascension, we consider that Christ our Lord has been victorious, and that He reigns now from the majesty of heaven. In the early Church, the confession, “Jesus is Lord,” was seen as a threat to Roman authority, exemplified in emperor worship. At one point, Christians were told to deny the Lordship and the Kingship of Christ and to say Kaiser Kurios (“Caesar is Lord”). The Christians were told to offer incense on pagan altars, as an act of emperor worship and to curse Christ.


It is not surprising that many Christians would not do these things. Above all, they could not attribute ultimate Lordship to Caesar because they already had allegiance to Jesus as Lord. Thus, these brave men, women, and children were persecuted, thrown to the lions, covered in pitch and set on fire as torches for Nero’s gardens, covered with animal skins and attacked by dogs. To say, “Jesus is Lord,” had radical implications for their lives.


The Lordship of Christ still has radical implications for us. Even though we may not have been persecuted like the early Christians, there are many Christians in the world suffering for their profession of faith. Every human heart is a battlefield for Our Lord wants to claim it for his own. At the same time Satan is determined to snatch as many souls to hell as he can. Thus, C.S Lewis wrote: “…there is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second is claimed by God and counter claimed by Satan.”[5]


Let us pray on this Ascension Day that we will be willing to suffer anything for love of God and for the Holy Name of Jesus.  Let us plant our feet firmly on the rock which is Peter and with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone and then we will be resilient against whatever storm comes up against our faith. Amen.


Notes

[1] The shekinah glory is the Hebrew name given to the presence of God dwelling on the earth.

[2] Revelation 5:5: “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

[3] The word “comfort” is based on two Latin words, cum forte (“with strength”). The strength that we receive from the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, enables us to fulfill the work Christ sets out for His Church.

[4] Israel’s tabernacle was merely a copy or shadow of the true tabernacle in heaven (Hebrews 8:1–7). Lasting atonement could only be accomplished if another high priest would enter this tabernacle with a perfect atoning sacrifice. The blood of bulls and goats at best brought about a temporary and external cleansing; the blood of the Son of God alone purifies “our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:11–14).

[5] C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections, “Christianity and Culture,” (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 33.

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