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Ascension: Jesus cannot simply go back to life as it was

Benjamin West - Public Domain

Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP - published on 10/29/19

In this month of the Rosary, take a moment to reflect on the Second Glorious Mystery.

You are therefore exalted above the heavens, O God! This has come to pass. It is now fulfilled. Yet we also say of that which was proclaimed of the future: You are exalted above the heavens, O God! We have not seen it, but we believe. – St. Augustine

Jesus’ public ministry begins with 40 days of prayer and fasting. We relive those 40 days each year in our Lenten fast. Then after his Resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days in friendship, eating and drinking with his disciples. The Ascension, rather than the Crucifixion, marks the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth.

As they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

During those 40 days before the Ascension, Jesus continues to fortify our faith. He appears to many, that they might see that he is truly risen. The apostle Thomas famously bears witness to the Lord’s wounds, the marks of the Passion, which he recognizes on Jesus’ risen body. Not only does the Church receive the witness of the empty tomb, but we also see the Risen Lord himself. The Lord eats and drinks, proving he is not a ghost or apparition. Jesus strengthens our faith by leaving the Church with credible evidence that he was raised from the dead: 40 days with him.

Angels again announce the work of God. Then, the angel Gabriel announced the coming of the Savior into this world and angels lauded his nativity. Now, angels bore witness to the Resurrection, and angels praise his glory. Truly, as the angels have said, he is risen, and truly, as the angels have said, he will come again.

Sharing in the glory of the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus now reveals his splendor, the glory that was his before the creation of the world.

St. John Chrysostom says, “No other was wrapped in a shroud by Joseph, nor does another hold creation in the palm of His hand. No other was laid in a tomb, nor was another hymned by the Seraphim. No other is seated with the Father, Who took root in the virginal womb.”

Angels and archangels, thrones, power, and dominions, every creature under heaven and earth now exultantly sing his praise. Pope Francis says, “Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and he entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.”


Read more:
Why the Holy Spirit’s continual presence should give us hope and joy

The Resurrection has changed everything. Jesus cannot simply go back to life as it was. The Son of God has ascended his throne, and all the world rejoices.

We must not cease looking to heaven, where our Lord now reigns in glory. As Pope Leo the Great says, “And so, dearly-beloved, let us rejoice with spiritual joy, and let us with gladness pay God worthy thanks and raise our hearts’ eyes unimpeded to those heights where Christ is.”

Let us not be caught thinking of the things of this world, but let our hearts be raised always to those things that are above!

Read more:
Ascension paradox: Why we needed Jesus to leave, and why He needed to stay

During the month of October, Aleteia is offering a short reflection on each of the 20 mysteries of the Rosary. Follow it here.

RosaryRosary Reflections
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