The Ascension of Christ
Augustine of Hippo
You ascended before our eyes, and we turned back grieving, only to find You in our hearts.
Augustine of Hippo
Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food. Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him?
Sermon on the Ascension
Augustine of Hippo
Just as he ascended into heaven without departing from us, so we, too, are already there with him although that which he promised us has not yet been accomplished in our body . . . Although he ascended into heaven, we are not separated from him. He who descended from heaven does not begrudge it to us; on the contrary, he proclaims it in a certain manner: “Be my members if you wish to ascend into heaven. . . .” The body will be easily lifted to the heights of heaven if the weight of our sins does not press down upon our spirit.
For though he has taken his flesh away from us, and in the body has ascended into heaven, yet he sits at the right hand of the Father —that is, he reigns in the Father’s power and majesty and glory. This Kingdom is neither bounded by location in space nor circumscribed by any limits. Thus Christ is not prevented from exerting his power wherever he pleases, in heaven and on earth. He shows his presence in power and strength, is always among his own people, and breathes his life upon them, and lives in them, sustaining them, strengthening, quickening, keeping them unharmed, as if he were present in the body. In short, he feeds his people with his own body, the communion of which he bestows upon them by the power of his Spirit. In this manner, the body and blood of Christ are shown to us in the Sacrament.
At His Ascension our Lord entered heaven, and He keeps the door open for humanity to enter.
He controls all things for the church, and therefore you can face the world with peace in your heart . . . he’s at the right hand of God as the executive director of history, directing everything for the benefit of the church. If you belong to him, then everything that happens ultimately happens for you.
Anthony J. Kelly
Theologically speaking, the ascension of Jesus Christ has, over the years, suffered a form of benign neglect compared to other aspects of Christian faith. This has made it vulnerable to mythic fantasies that do nothing for faith or theology. Because the ascension has received so little critical theological attention, it tends to become a victim of a free floating imagination so as to appear as a mythological extravagance to the point where faith, reason, and language are somewhat embarrassed.
Anthony J. Kelly
Far from being a largely irrelevant item in terms of Christian experience, the ascension is that facet of the Christian mystery that is most near to those living the life of faith. St. Paul, in emphasizing his relationship to Christ in the present, declared, “even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way” (2 Cor 5:16). Like him, believers of every age have no need to hanker after the earthly presence of Jesus in the Palestine of two thousand years ago. He has gone. He is risen, and has been exalted and glorified, and is Lord of all time and space. There is no point in gazing upward, as the heavenly messengers remind both the apostles and the generations who would profit from their witness (Acts 1:11). Faith and hope have now to be busy about other matters, even as Christians, then and now, await his return at the end of time, and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5, 11).
Anthony J. Kelly
The crucified Jesus rises from the tomb, and though transformed, appears to his disciples and is identified by them as the one who lived among them. He is then taken up into the luminous cloud of God’s presence, no longer to be found in the time and space of his earthly life in Palestine, nor any longer revealing himself through the episodic appearances that followed his resurrection. In his ascended existence, he now fills all time and space, and inhabits every dimension of reality, from the highest realm of the infinite Godhead to the mundane, agonizing reality of created existence. The ascension opens the space in which believers themselves begin to inhabit a new sphere of transformed existence.
He goes ‘to prepare a place for us.’ This presumably means that He is about to create that whole new Nature which will provide the environment or conditions for His glorified humanity and, in Him, Jesus Ascended for ours … It is the picture of a new human nature, and a new Nature in general, being brought into existence. We must, indeed, believe the risen body to be extremely different from the mortal body: but the existence, in that new state, of anything that could in any sense be described as ‘body’ at all, involves some sort of spatial relations and in the long run a whole new universe. That is the picture — not of unmaking but of remaking. The old field of space, time, matter, and the senses is to be weeded, dug, and sown for a new crop. We may be tired of that old field: God is not.
In his life Christ is an example showing us how to live in his death he is a sacrifice satisfying our sins in his resurrection a conqueror in his ascension a king in his intercession a high priest.
The ascension reminds us that Christianity is not only an historical faith, but a faith of the present and future. Jesus is, right now, in glorified humanity on the throne of the universe, wielding as the God-man “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). He is not just our suffering servant who came and died and rose triumphant, but our actively ruling, actively conquering king.
John Henry Newman
Christ is already in that place of peace, which is all in all. He is on the right hand of God. He is hidden in the brightness of the radiance which issues from the everlasting throne. He is in the very abyss of peace, where there is no voice of tumult or distress, but a deep stillness–stillness, that greatest and most awful of all goods which we can fancy; that most perfect of joys, the utter profound, ineffable tranquillity of the Divine Essence. He has entered into His rest. That is our home; here we are on a pilgrimage, and Christ calls us to His many mansions which He has prepared.
It is a fact that the Lord Jesus has already died for you. It is also a fact that you have already died with the Lord Jesus. If you do not believe in your death with Christ, you will not be able to receive the effectiveness of death with Him – freedom from sin.
“Ascension seemed at such times a natural law. If one added to it a law of completion – that everything must finally be made comprehensible – then some general rescue of the sort I imagined my aunt to have undertaken would be inevitable. For why do our thoughts turn to some gesture of a hand, the fall of a sleeve, some corner of a room on a particular anonymous afternoon, even when we are asleep, and even when we are so old that our thoughts have abandoned other business? What are all these fragments for , if not to be knit up finally?”
Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor.
Henry Barclay Swete
The ‘going up’ of the Son of Man into heaven was also His ‘being taken up/ the Ascension was an Assumption; and the words answer to two complementary aspects of the event. The one represents Jesus Christ as entering the Presence of the Father of His own will and right; the other lays the emphasis on the Father’s act by which He was exalted as the reward of His obedience unto death … as seen by the spectators, the ascent was bounded by the sky, but viewed in the light of the Spirit, it carried the Lord beyond all bounds of space.
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