Friday, May 21, 2010

Mystery of the Ascension, mystery of hope 希望的節日

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.

剛過去的星期四原是「耶穌升天節」,本地則安排在昨主日(五月十六日)慶祝。

要理書指出:「基督復活後仍活留在世上四十日,為證明祂確實自死者中復活了,也給宗徒們最後訓示。」之後,祂便在眾多人目睹下緩緩升天。「耶穌升天」帶給了我們希望,指派了我們使命。

 

帶給了我們希望

「耶穌升天節」是「希望的節日」、「淺嚐天國的慶日」。教宗聖良一世說:「基督升天標誌着我們升天;我們期望終有一天,會跟隨我們光榮的先軀,被提升天。」

基督升天,永享祂賺得的勝利。我們在「信經」中,宣稱耶穌「坐在全能天主聖父的右邊。」「坐在」意即:一)完成贖世之功後,我們的救世主安享那永恆的喜樂;二)祂是萬王之王,生者死者的審判者。「全能天主聖父的右邊」意謂:一)基督天主性與天主聖父平等無異;二)基督人性在萬物之上,享有權能和光榮。

但,基督的升天,亦裨益了我們:一)祂為人類戰勝了罪惡,重開天國之門;二)祂從天上派遣聖神,降臨教會;三)祂作我們在天上的中保。

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。」

聖保祿宗徒在致哥羅森書中(3:1-2)教導我們:「你們既然與基督一同復活了,就該追求天上的事,在那裏有基督坐在天主的右邊。你們該思念天上的事,不該思念地上的事。」

 

指派了我們使命

升天前,耶穌對祂的門徒說:「所以你們要去使萬民成為門徒,因父及子及聖神之名給他們授洗,教訓他們遵守我所吩咐你們的一切。...(瑪竇福音28:19-20)」——委給宗徒和他們的繼承人三個職務:一)訓導職:向萬民宣講福音、教導他們(「使萬民成為門徒」);二)司祭職:施行聖事(「給他們授洗」);三)管牧職:管理信眾,訓令他們要遵守誡命(「教訓他們遵守我所吩咐你們的一切」)。

耶穌向宗徒承諾說:「... 看!我同你們天天在一起,直到今世的終結。(瑪竇福音28:20)」祂吩咐他們「不要離開耶路撒冷,但要等候父的恩許【——即天主聖神】(宗徒大事錄1:4-5)...」

為要執行我們在教會的使命,我們要從臨在的基督和聖神,求得超性的力量。要理書明述:「耶穌的天主性無所不在,祂的人性在天堂和聖體聖事內。」今日,耶穌真實臨在聖體中,而藉這奇妙的聖事,天地共融、神人相繫,我們獲得力量,走人生的旅程。

耶穌升天後,聖母同其他宗徒一起祈禱,靜候聖神降臨,這是聖教會的第一個「九日敬禮」。我們齊向聖母祈求,幫助我們善備即將來到的「聖神降臨節」。