Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/1/2014 (6 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Is this Feast a commemoration of an event which occurred 2000 years ago? Or, could it help unlock the meaning of our lives right now? Does it point to the plan of God for the entire created order?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth. In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God\'s possession, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14)

The Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ

The Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/1/2014 (6 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: ascension, Feast of the Ascension, Pentecost, holiness, spirituality, charismatic, living faith, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - Throughout most of the Catholic Church around the world we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord on this Thursday. In some places, the Feast is transferred to Sunday.

However, whether celebrated on Thursday or Sunday, it is meant to be a cause for celebration. It can be - IF we allow the Holy Spirit to show us what it really means.

The Feast has lost its meaning in the experience of too many Catholics and other  Christians.

Does the Ascension of Jesus affect our lives in the here and now?

Is this Feast a commemoration of an event which occurred 2000 years ago? Or, could it help unlock the meaning of our lives right now? Does it point to the plan of God for the entire created order?

This is meant to be a Feast of profound meaning and promise. However, it requires us to reflect on  who Jesus is - and who we are empowered to become in Him.

The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus helps to explain the Christian vocation. It points to the ongoing plan of redemption for each of us. It gives us a glimpse of the loving plan of God for the whole of creation.

This Feast also points us toward a deeper understanding of the Feast of Pentecost which we will soon celebrate. The very Breath of God, His Holy Spirit, has been breathed into the Body of Christ, the Church - and into each one of us as members of that Body.

That Spirit makes it possible for us to live differently - beginning right now. It is at work within us, transforming us more and more into His Image and Likeness, as we cooperate with the gift of grace.

That Spirit empowers and equips us to participate in the ongoing redemptive mission of Jesus Christ, as it continues through His Body, the Church.

We have ascended with Jesus Christ - and are called to live on this earth the very realities of heaven. This is meant to begin in the here and now, to be completed in the fullness of time.

The redemptive plan of God in Jesus Christ will not be complete until the same Jesus who ascended returns and hands the re-created cosmos back to the Father.

That is what the Apostle Paul calls "the plan", or the "mystery" now revealed in Jesus Christ. (See, e.g., Col. 1)

So, what am I saying?

The Feast of the Ascension reveals the meaning of our lives and points to the plan of God for the entire created order.

Is that how we understand the Feast? I think we more commonly think of the Ascension as some kind of intermission. Now, we must strive to do the best we can until Jesus returns.

However, the Ascension is not an intermission at all. The event we remember in this Feast reveals the mission of the Church - and our call to participate in it.

Jesus Christ has not left us. He is continuing His loving, redemptive plan through His Body, the Church, of which we are members. 

The Head and the Body cannot be separated.

The great western Bishop Augustine proclaimed these words in a homily he preached on the Feast of the Ascension:

Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.

When we passed through the waters of the Font of Baptism we were incorporated into Jesus Christ and became members of His Body, the Church.

Therefore, as Augustine also wrote, "Where the Head is, there is the Body, where I am, there is my Church, we too are one; the Church is in me and I in her and we two are your Beloved and your Lover."

Augustine, reflecting the clear teaching of the early Church Fathers, reminds us that the Head and the Body united are the "One Christ." In other words, we ascended with the Lord! He is the Head and we are members of His Body. We cannot be separated.

So, this is our Feast!
 
We live in Christ by living in His Body, the Church, of which we are members. We are invited to live in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world.

Pope St Leo the Great reflected on the joy the disciples experienced on that glorious day in these words:

(T)hat blessed company had a great and inexpressible cause for joy when it saw man's nature rising above the dignity of the whole heavenly creation, above the ranks of angels, above the exalted status of archangels.

Now would there be any limit to its upward course until humanity was admitted to a seat at the right hand of the eternal father, to be enthroned at last in the glory of him to whose nature it was wedded in the Person of the Son.


Both Augustine and Leo point us to the deeper meaning of this Feast.

The Ascension does not mark the end of Jesus' relationship with His Church but the beginning of a new way of His relating to the world - in and through His Church.

This way includes every one of us who now bear His name. When viewed with the eyes of living faith the Ascension can begin to change the way we view ourselves and live our daily lives.

Jesus Christ bridged heaven and earth. Through His Incarnation, His Saving Life, Death and Resurrection, we have been set free from the consequences of sin, including the sting of death. (See, 1 Cor. 15:55)

We are being created anew in Him daily as we freely cooperate with His grace.
One of the Catechism's definitions of grace is "a participation in Divine Life".  (See, CCC #1997)

It calls to mind the wonderful words of the Apostle Peter in his second letter. He reminded the early Christians that they were "participants in the Divine Nature". (2 Peter 1:4)

So are we! We participate in the Divine Nature.

The Divine Life of the Risen Savior is mediated to us through the Word and the Sacraments - in and through the Church, which is the Body of Christ. Grace is the very life of God. 

We have been incorporated into the Trinitarian communion of love, beginning now, because we live in Jesus Christ.  We are members of His Body, the Church.

The Church is not some - thing, the Church is Some-One, the Risen Christ truly present in the world which was created through Him, and is now being re-created in Him.

The Church is the seed of the coming Kingdom, planted and sent into the world to continue His redemptive mission until He comes again.

When He does return, He will complete the work of Redemption.

The Church, as the early fathers were fond of saying, is the new world, the world in the course of transfiguration.

The Christian vocation invites us to live this new relationship in Jesus Christ together, with the Father, through the Holy Spirit. We are invited to live in the Heart of the Church, for the sake of the World.

So, the Feast of the Ascension is not an Intermission.

The Feast reveals the continuation of the Redemptive mission of Jesus Christ and the great and wonderful plan of the God of Love.

Let me conclude with some words from the great Apostle and mystic Paul who reflects on this loving plan of God:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.

In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.

In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.

In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God's possession, to the praise of his glory.
(Ephesians 1:3-14)

Happy Feast Church!

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More U.S.

A journey to the land of the free: Part One -- Beaten and scared young children flee violence and turn to the United States for hope Watch

Image of Many young immigrants have no more fight in them when they decide to cross the border, they're only trying to survive.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Blistered feet and filthy, blood-stained skin is the forlorn image of immigrants preparing to cross the border. With hopeful hearts and anxious minds, immigrants, of all ages, assemble to make the leap into their promise land. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Most ... continue reading


Pope Francis, the real architect behind the U.S.-Cuban thaw Watch

Image of With personal appeals, letters, and hosted meetings, the Vatican and Pope Francis can accurately be called the masterminds behind the recent thaw between the U.S. and Cuba.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba took the world by surprise, but perhaps one man was not as shocked as the rest. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A senior official with the White House reported that Pope Francis made personal appeals to both President ... continue reading


Looking forward to your tax refund this year? Don't hold your breath. The IRS suffers after extreme budget cuts. Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Heavily stricken with budget cuts and new tax-related laws, the IRS considers implementing its own temporary shutdown. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Congress has recently cut the IRS budget by $346 million. The IRS' budget has been cut a total of $1 billion since ... continue reading


OBAMACARE DOES NOT WORK! Vermont gives up free healthcare plan as too expensive Watch

Image of Vermont's governor announced that a planned universal healthcare program for the state has been cancelled because the massive tax hikes would devastate the state's economy.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Peter Shumlin, the governor of Vermont, announced that he was canceling his longtime dream to create a single-payer health care system for his state. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The announcement came on December 17, citing problems with paying for the Green ... continue reading


The disgusting new fact of American life: More than 46 million Americans on food stamps for 37 straight month Watch

Image of Obama has been in office for about 70 months, and 37 of those months have seen the most amount of Americans on food stamps, ever!

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is self-evident that President Obama continues to undermine the abilities of the lower class, enforcing government-reliance on those who can least afford it. The number of Americans on food stamps under Obama has continued along its record breaking path, as, ... continue reading


Faith in the United States' race relations hits a strikingly low point after no indictment verdicts Watch

Image of 57 percent of American's say race relations in the United States are bad, according to the latest NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Those are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, a man who fought long and hard for a better today. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A land where discrimination no longer prevails is a reality that seems no ... continue reading


The Pope, the Pets, the Paparazzi and the Propaganda Media

Image of Pope Francis pets a dog

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The passing on of this complete fabrication, as well as the embellishment which accompanied it, were not simply a matter of the secular press failing to comprehend this Pope. In fact, religious news sources, both Catholic and Protestant, jumped in. This all ... continue reading


Why is he so upset? Because of the secret Republican time bomb in the government funding bill Watch

Image of The federal government has funding through the 2015 fiscal year, but Republicans will have many opportunities to fight the president's programs in that time.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Senate has approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill, aimed to fund nearly the whole of the federal government through the 2015 fiscal year, ending weeks of drama in Congress and relieving doubts that the government might be shut down again while Democrats and ... continue reading


You know about the 'Bishop of Bling' but do American clergy have the same problem too? Watch

Image of The Bishop of Bling was sacked after he spent $43 million renovating his home.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has called for "a Church which is poor and for the poor." However, not every member of the clergy may have read the memo. A number of high-ranking Church officials in the United States live in lavish homes, sometimes bordering on the scandalous. LOS ... continue reading


Water leak leads to discovery of 1795 time capsule - left by Paul Revere! Watch

Image of A worker holds the time capsule left by the revolutionaries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Paul Revere, the fearless revolutionary who mounted his horse to declare that "The British are coming! The British are coming!" has left an enduring national legacy - in both deed and actions. Excitement is mounting with the discovery of a time capsule left by Revere ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 7:10-14
10 Yahweh spoke to Ahaz again and said:11 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 20th, 2014 Image

St. Dominic of Silos
December 20: Benedictine abbot and defender of the faith. Born in Canas, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter