Solemnity of the Ascension


May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet....


We celebrate the Ascension of Jesus as he takes his seat at God's right hand. We have seen him "raised up" and "seated" on the cross which, historians say, may have had a horizontal peg to bear weight of the victim's torso, while his arms were spread and his feet were nailed beneath him. It was a most cruel kind of chair. The victim usually died of dehydration due to exposure. Jesus, choosing to give his life rather than have it taken from him, surrendered to the Father after several hours on the cross, to Pilate's surprise.  
Raised from the hell to which he had descended to heavenly glory the Son of Mary is now enthroned above the entire universe. Just as Abraham proved his love of God by the sacrifice of Isaac, Jesus has proved his worth by what he suffered and now, uncontested by any other authority in heaven, on earth or below the earth, he sits at the right hand of the Father. 
The Author of Hebrews says, "he learned obedience from what he suffered." In the mystery of the Trinity, authority, obedience and the willingness to suffer sacrificially are the same thing.  
We cannot consider the Ascension of Jesus to God's right hand without pondering the freedom, wisdom and hope which he has won for us. We believe that the universe has been profoundly altered by his death and resurrection. If our neighbors and fellow citizens don't know it, we do -- because we have found ourselves drawn into the story. We dove with him into the vortex of his death, and were uplifted and elated by the fountain of his resurrection. Heirs among the holy ones, we see the riches of his glory and the surpassing greatness of his power. 
Our Christian freedom and authority are founded on obedience to Jesus. As Oswald Chambers said, 
"The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else." 
There was a time when I thought I was fearless. I wondered at the fearfulness of people around me, largely because I had not noticed my own. I feared what other's thought and said about me, and what they might say to me. I feared my opinions might be wrong, and my intentions misdirected. I hated to be proven wrong. 
The difference today is only that I notice some of these fears and can address them. 
Sometimes I recognize how often I can do nothing about my worries except hand them over to the Lord, "God, you've got a problem here!" If I say that often enough, and, perhaps, share my helplessness with a friend, I can sit back and watch how God handles the problem. If the Lord tells me what to do, and provides the right moment, I often find that gentle spirit to address the issue. It's in his hands. 
At one time, the Roman Church supposed every nation should be officially Catholic and ruled by a Catholic monarch. That's how we interpreted the mystery of the Ascension. If Jesus is the King then everyone should be Catholic. Not until the Second Vatican Council did the Vatican surrender that lost cause. The changed policy was late by several hundred years and few nations even noticed. 
But Catholics have not ceded our freedom to the democracies and dictatorships that succeeded monarchy. We remain obedient to the Risen Lord, practicing and promoting his policies. Because we prize our freedom we expect difficulties and disagreements. We embrace sacrifices and would rather pay taxes than live in a nation without them. Our spirit teaches us that the Earth belongs to everyone, that the least among us should enjoy the greatest privileges, and we're all in this together -- under the authority of Jesus. 



No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.