Upon His shoulders dominion rests
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast and forever peaceful (IS 9:5-6)
This week, we are celebrating the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven. As a babe kings honored Him. As a young man all abused Him. And now He will take those wounds into Heaven with Him, dignifying our humanity. Christ the King takes His proper seat at the right hand of God the Father and, with a watchful eye, oversees His dominion.
It has come to fruition that
A child born to die
Has arisen on up high
This child king is now
King of all Creation.
Both Mark’s and Luke’s gospels give us an account of this, as well as the Acts of the Apostles. John’s gospel intends to show us more than the historical event. He brings the truth of Jesus’ divinity to us and of God’s love for us. For John, Jesus’ ascent began when He was lifted high on the cross. Then after His resurrection he says to Mary Magdalene, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (Jn 20:17) Our Father. During His crucifixion, the new Christian family began with Jesus giving His mother to John and to us. With His ascension, we too can join this spiritual family. Jesus has done all of this with His own power, “glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength” (Is. 63:1).
“Thus, Jesus himself is what we call “heaven”; heaven is not a place but a person, the person of him in whom God and man are forever and inseparably one. And we go to heaven and enter into heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him. In this sense, “ascension into heaven” can be something that takes place in our everyday lives…” (Pope Benedict XVI) [i]
Now in Heaven, it is through Jesus that we too will one day enter. Rather than a place, Heaven is God and through Jesus is where we enter that union with God.
Jesus’ ascension into Heaven gave us that bridge so that our human nature can be elevated to participate in God’s divine nature, scars and all. When we allow Him to heal us by being completely honest with Him, His grace will give us moments of this union now, a foretaste of the eternal.
The purification needed for this begins today in mental prayer, which is why the Church has been imploring upon us to start and stick with this. It brings us back to the pure heart of a child as we were meant to be. Explaining the difference between childish and childlike, Msgr. Pope quotes Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange: “We find in a child as a rule, simplicity and consciousness of his weakness …. The simplicity, or absence of duplicity, of a child is wholly spontaneous, in him there is no labored refinement, no affectation. He generally says what he thinks and expresses what he desires without subterfuge, without fear of what people will say. As a rule, he does not pose; he shows himself as he is. Conscious of his weakness … he depends in everything on his father and mother, from whom he should receive everything.” [ii]
How can we become child-like?
- Small amounts of time spent daily on learning the faith—such as listening to the talks at the Institute of Catholic Culture. You’ll be surprised at the insights given into the meaning of our scriptures, such as the talk “Who is the King of Glory? A study of the Ascension of Christ”. Fr. Hezekias expounds upon the depth and richness of this Ascension.[iii]
- Waste time with God. In his book Simple Prayer, Fr. John Dalrymple reminds us that we should not go into prayer intending to be productive but, rather, spend time with one you love and who loves you very much. [iv]
- Use Regnum Christi’s daily meditations or retreat guides as your ‘starter’ for your prayer time, and then sit for 15-20 minutes in silence thereafter. [v]
- Arrive at mass early to settle into the mystery, and throughout the mass ask God for the Grace of an open heart to receive the Eucharist.
Our King and high Priest established the Priesthood to bring us to Himself, our salvation. In the Eucharistic liturgy, not only does the priest stand in for Christ in the Consecration of His body and blood (In Persona Christi), he stands in for us in the prayers, sacrifice and consuming of the Eucharist. The priest “becomes a representation of man before Christ and his Father” (Leo Cardinal Scheffczyk).
“This first specific element here lies in the fact that the priest, because of his sacred Orders, receives a special configuration to Christ.” … “it enables him to stand and to act in the place of Christ. Thus, he becomes a representation of the priesthood of Christ” … The priest needs to have the conviction that he is there for others [us] and that with his whole life he stands in the place of the other, meaning that he is able to relieve him of his burden, his guilt, and his sins.” … “Whoever can say to himself and ever anew convince himself, that in the midst of the most ordinary and the thorniest parts of the daily life of a pastor, with all its disappointments and failures, he stands in the place of countless others to whom his life in the presence of God can bring blessing and grace, that man will actually need no further affirmation, from himself or others … This can only come to the priest from the inside, from a life for others in communion with Christ.” (Leo Cardinal Scheffczyk, pps. 23-28) [vi]
In many dioceses around the country, May and June are months of priestly ordinations. Continue praying for Pope Francis, our clergy and religious, and those on the path.
Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son
is our exaltation,
and, where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(Collect, Ascension, Mass During the Day)
Mary, Mother of Peace, pray for us.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊
Image by Benvenuto Tisi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
[i] Pope Benedict XVI, The Meaning of the Ascension. http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/spiritual-life/the-meaning-of-the-ascension.html
[iii] Fr. Hezekias teaching on the Ascension of Christ https://instituteofcatholicculture.org/events/who-is-the-king-of-glory
[vi] Leo Cardinal Scheffczyk https://www.catholicscholars.org/PDFFiles/v39n34FallWinter2016.pdf
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