Your Ascension Thursday Reflection: Preparing a Place for Us

Please enjoy this Ascension Thursday devotion from our brand-new devotional by Mike Aquilina and Adam Lucas, Feasts 0f Our Fathers: Praying the Church Year with the Early Christians, out now.

In his commentary on the Gospel of John, St. Cyril of Alexandria reminds us that what happens to Christ affects the whole human race; and so, as Christ is raised up to heaven, he brings us with him into paradise.

Reflect:Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:6-11

Read:Jesus departs to secure the way to the mansions above—to prepare a safe pathfor you, and to smooth the path that was impassable before.

For heaven was closed to mortal man. No flesh had ever walked in that pure and all-holy realm of the angels. But Christ was the first who consecrated for us the means of accessing himself, and gave flesh a way into heaven, presenting himself to the Father as the first fruits—the first of mankind that ever appeared there.

The angels were astonished at his coming. They shout almost in confusion at the strange and unusual event:Who is this that comes from Edom?(that is, from the earth). But the Spirit did not leave them ignorant of the marvelous wisdom of God the Father but commanded them to open the heavenly gates in honor to the King and Master of all, proclaiming,Lift up the gates, o princes, and rise, everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in!Thus our Lord Jesus the Messiah made for usa new and living way, as Paul says, not having entered into a holy place made with hands, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us.

For Christ did not ascend on high to present himself before the presence of God the Father; for he always was, and is, and will be continually in the Father, in the sight of him who begat him. And in him the Father always takes delight. But now the Word, who had no part in human nature, has ascended in human form to appear in heaven in a strange and unusual manner. This he has done on our account, and for our sakes; so that he, thoughfound as a man, while in human form may still, in his absolute power as Son, obey the command,Sit at my right hand, and so may transfer the glory of adoption through himself to all the human race. For since he was born as man he is still one of us as he sits at the right hand of God the Father, even though he is far above all creation; and he is also consubstantial with his Father, since he has come from him as truly God of God and Light of Light.

Therefore, he has presented himself as man to the Father on our behalf, so that he may restore us (who had been removed from the Father’s presence by the ancient sin), again to behold the Father’s face. He sits there in his position as Son, so that through him we may also be calls sons and children of God. For this reason Paul, who insists that Christ is speaking through his voice, teaches us to regard the events that happened in the life of Christ alone as common to the whole human race; saying thatGod raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ.For by nature Son, it is Christ’s special prerogative to sit at the Father’s side; and the glory of this dignity we can ascribe rightly and truly to him, and him alone. But the fact that Christ who sits there is in all points like us, in that he has come as man (while we believe him to be God of God), seems to confer on us also the privilege of this dignity. For even if we shall not sit at the side of the Father himself—for how could the servant ever ascend to equal honor with the master—yet nevertheless Christ promised the holy disciples that they should sit on thrones. For he says,When the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Remember:Today Christ paves the way to the perfect joy of heaven for us; one day we will join him.

Pray:Almighty God, fill us with holy joy and glad thanksgiving on the feast of the ascension of Christ your Son. Give us hope that where our Head has gone, we, the Body, may follow.

The Importance of the Ascension

Sometimes the Ascension feels tacked on to the Easter mystery, overshadowed by thereallyimportant stuff—Jesus’ death and resurrection. But the Ascension is more than an epilogue; it’s an essential part of our redemption. At Mass we don’t just remember Christ’s passion and resurrection, but also his ascending into heaven. That’s because the Ascension crowns the process of divinization [see the entry for the third week of Easter] that Jesus accomplishes through his sacrifice and resurrection.

In the work of Christ, God brings all of creation (and especially mankind) back together from its scattered, sinful condition and returns it to its rightful place with the Father. This idea is calledrecapitulation, meaning “to sum up.” It comes from Ephesians 1:10, where St. Paul writes that God’s desire was “to sum up all things in Christ.”

We can think of humanity’s spiritual history like a big check mark, moving from left to right. We start out high, enjoying the paradise of the Garden of Eden. But Adam sins, and humanity plunges downward into darkness, ruin, and suffering. At the bottom of the check mark, Christ comes and joins himself to us in his Incarnation; and by dying and rising again he reverses our trajectory. Now the line starts to go up the other side, as Christ raises us up to the happiness we had before. But a check mark ends above where it began, and in some sense this is what Christ does for us in his ascension. He elevates us even above the dignity we had at the very beginning, because he brings us to the very heights of heaven and the right hand of God the Father. Mankind before only had the paradise of earth. Now, we hope for the paradise of heaven.

Most Reverend José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles says...

"This book is a treasure of spiritual wisdom from the first generations of the Church. Reading and praying with this book reminds us that in Jesus Christ, even the calendar has been sanctified, that every day is holy to the Lord, and that our lives are part of the beautiful story of love that is being written in salvation history. The early Christians lived “feast to feast” and spoke of “redeeming the time,” using every moment to give glory to God. This is still the best way for a Christian to live. This book can help us."

May 8th 2024 Mike Aquilina and Adam Lucas

Recent Posts