This article was published at May 17 BC Catholic newspaper
Last Thursday was "Ascension Thursday," and here in Canada we celebrated the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord on Sunday, May 16.
According to one catechism, "Christ remained on earth 40 days after His Resurrection to prove that He had truly risen from the dead and to complete the instruction of the apostles."
At the end of the 40 days, Christ ascended into heaven. The mystery of the Ascension gives us both a sense of hope and a sense of mission.
Sense of hope
The Ascension is a feast of hope and a foretaste of heaven. Pope St. Leo the Great said, "Christ's Ascension is our own ascension; our body has the hope of one day being where its glorious Head has preceded it."
Christ ascended into heaven to enjoy the triumph which He had merited. In the Creed we profess that "He is seated at the right hand of the Father."
"Seated" is a figurative expression which signifies first, that after the work of redemption, the Saviour is enjoying an unchangeable repose in eternal happiness; and second, that He is the King of kings and Judge of the living and the dead.
"At the right hand of the Father" signifies first, that Christ as God is equal to the Father in all things; and second, Christ as man enjoys power and glory beyond that of all mere creatures.
But Christ ascended into heaven also for our benefit: first, He opened to mankind that heaven which Adam's sin had closed; second, He sent the Holy Spirit to the Church; third, He intercedes for us with His Father.
Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD, wrote, "Our right to heaven has been given us; our place is ready. It is for us to live in such a way that we may occupy it some day."
St. Paul teaches us the way we should live: "If, then, you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth" (Col. 3:1-2).
Sense of mission
Before His Ascension, Jesus said to His disciples, "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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Mt. 28:19-20).
With these words Jesus entrusted to the apostles and their successors His threefold office: first, the teaching office: proclaim the Gospel to all people ("make disciples of all nations"); second, the priestly office: the power to administer the sacraments ("baptizing them...."); third, the pastoral office: supervising the faithful who shall be held to the observance of the commandments ("teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you").
He made a promise to the disciples: "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Mt. 28:20).
Jesus also told them to stay in Jerusalem and to wait for "the promise of the Father": the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).
In order to fulfil our mission in the Church we need to draw strength from the divine presence of Christ and of the Holy Spirit. A catechism states: "In His divine nature, Jesus is everywhere; in His human nature, Jesus is in heaven and in the Blessed Sacrament."
Today Jesus is truly present among us in the Holy Eucharist. In this wonderful sacrament earth is united with heaven, and we receive strength on our earthly journey.
After the Ascension, the disciples were united with Mary in prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is the first novena (nine days of prayer) in the history of the Church.
As we prepare for the Solemnity of Pentecost, let us ask Our Lady to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
赤足聖衣會會士佳播神父Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.寫道：「升天之恩已賞了我們，天國之位亦已給我們預備了，只看我們如何堪當就位而矣。」