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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Ascending with Christ

Now we, we who before were considered unfit to live even upon the earth are now raised up to live in heaven and ascend with Christ into the Kingdom of Heaven to take our seat upon a royal throne.Chrysostom [Homily on the Ascension]

The Feast of the Ascension commemorates the entrance of Christ as High Priest into the Holy of Holies where He offers His own blood as a sacrifice for our redemption. It commemorates Christ’s bodily ascension into Heaven to place our humanity on the throne of the Divinity. Now the Church lives in the presence of the glorified Christ and through Him sits at the right hand of the Father. The Church remembers that the One who has ascended, will return again one day.

The forty days between Christ’s resurrection and his ascension are not to be seen simply as forty calendar days, but rather as a sign that Christ has indeed fulfilled all He intended to accomplish in his Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection. Humanity that had become alienated from the Father through sin is now once more in communion with God and has been restored to its status as sons and daughters in the Lord.

While the Apostles initially hope that the completion of Christ’s earthly mission will mean the restoration of Israel in an earthly kingdom, they will soon see that Christ intends not the restoration of the earthly Israel but the restoration of God’s people into the kingdom of the heavenly Israel. The Apostles will be given an even greater gift than a restored homeland on Earth; they will be given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We on our Easter journey, have reached a point of transition. Jesus has completed his earthly mission and restored us into communion with the Father, the scriptures have been fulfilled. This is not to say that Christ does not continue to remain active within our daily lives; He certainly does, for the Father is always working with both of His hands - the Son and the Spirt. And we continue to be integrally linked to Christ’s divinity through baptism.

The Son has saved us; the Spirit calls us forth to spread that good news to others. The Son is the Light of the Word and the Life-giving Stream. The Spirit is the Fire of Pentecost and the sanctifying Water of Purification. The Son ascends and the Spirit descends both to glorify our humanity and bring us closer into union with the Divine. Indeed, the ascension of Christ does not mean the end of our Easter journey. We must now follow Christ’s command to await the coming of Holy Spirit on the feast of Pentecost.


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