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Jesus Christ ascends to Heaven while His apostles look on. Two angels address the apostles. The Ascension by John Copley (1775). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Today is the Feast day of the Ascension, known as Ascension Thursday. On this day, millions of Roman Catholics will be attending mass to celebrate the Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven. It should be mentioned here that many other Christian denominations (such as Orthodox and Protestants) celebrate this event in their own ways. He rose from the dead with the Resurrection and now He ascends to Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.

Just as the Roman Catholic faith begins with Jesus, I am choosing to begin my blog on Ascension Thursday. Jesus is at the center of this most ancient and celebratory feast day. Jesus is the heart of Christianity after all.

In the liturgical calendar, Ascension Thursday marks 40 days after the Lord’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. What do the Gospels have to say about the Ascension? What do the Creeds have to say? What does the Catechism have to say? Let’s take a look.

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A collection of flowers in a basket by Congerdesign. Source: Pixabay.

The Ascension in the Gospels

The Gospel of Matthew:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

The Gospel of Mark:

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they [the Disciples] went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:19-20)

The Gospel of Luke:

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands, he blessed them [the Disciples]. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God. (Luke 24:50-52)

The Ascension in the Creeds

The Athanasian Creed:

“He ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

The Apostle’s Creed:

“He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”

The Nicene Creed:

“He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”

The Ascension in the catechism

665     Christ’s ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’s humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf. Col 3:3).

666     Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him for ever.

667     Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as mediator who assures us the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

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Gerbera daisies up close by Fietzfotos. Source: Pixabay.

As a Roman Catholic, I pray the Rosary and cherish it as a special devotion. Whenever I pray the Glorious Mysteries, I adore the second mystery which is the Ascension. While Mary, Jesus’s mother was assumed into Heaven (thus the Assumption) by no power of her own, Jesus ascends to Heaven of His own volition. Jesus exhibits His own power here and shows that He is a Creator not a creature.

The Ascension is Christ in His glory. He declares in Matthew 28:17 that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He has vanquished the enemy and death. This is the next step after the Resurrection where He showed the world that He was not defeated by death or sin. He ascends into Heaven and unites with the Father, sitting at His right hand. The wounds of His Crucifixion are forever present, a testament to the great price that He paid on the Cross.

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A photograph of a dandelion up close by Jplenio. Source: Pixabay.

In Holy Scripture, many important things happen at the Ascension.

  • Jesus charged His disciples with baptizing in the Name of the Holy Spirit and evangelizing the faith. This is something as Christians that we are charged with. This isn’t always an easy undertaking but one that we should remember in our hearts. How can you evangelize the faith? Through kindness and patience with others. When other witness you living the faith, you are evangelizing. When you treat another with kindness and patience, you are an example to others.
  • He asserts that He has come fully into His power. Remember, Christ has the power. He has the answers. He suffered for us. He is there for us. Do you sometimes forget Jesus? I know I am guilty of that. Dedicate some time to Jesus. Let Him know that you love Him.
  • He exhorts His followers to obey the commands that He has given them. This sounds so simple but how often do we fall short of the mark? The truth is that no one is perfect. Everyone has room for improvement. When you try to obey those commands with all of your heart, it speaks volumes. There is beauty in simply trying.
  • He reminds us that He is with us no matter what and “until the end of the age.” How often do we get stuck in the rat race? We have work or school or whatever that steals our time. We live in this society that tells us that we have to be 100% perfect 100% of the time. The truth is that we all could use someone to lean on every now and then. Other human beings are wonderful but there is nothing like relying on God. He is always on your side!
  • He proclaims a blessing on the Disciples before He finally makes His ascent into Heaven. Through the Sacred Tradition and as followers of Christ, we are blessed in the beauty of the Catholic Church. Live your faith with joy. Remember God has blessed you.

Have a blessed Ascension Thursday!


Featured Image: Jesus ascending into Heaven by Falco. Source: Pixabay.

Check out this excellent post by the Crossroads Initiative on the sermon that Saint Augustine of Hippo gave about the Ascension.

Ten days after Ascension Thursday is the Feast Day of Pentecost. Check out this Pentecost novena by Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

 

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