Ascension means: removal. It is about a mystery of power, the mystery of the Royalty of the Son of God. Coming down out from heaven right near the Father, Jesus Christ took our human form. He died for us and descended into hell. Again on the third day, he ascended into heaven. "No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man." (John 3: 13) Or, "Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?" (John 6: 62)

For Christ, the event of his death and that of his Ascension, evoked a departure. On the evening of the Last Supper, Jesus announced his imminent departure. He speaks first of his death and then of his final establishment in heaven. Thus Jesus opens our access to the Father. Coming to liberate us from the depths of ourselves, he enables us to rise up with him, in him, in heaven to join the Father. Jesus says: "Where I am going, you cannot come." (John 13: 33)

"In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be." (John 14: 2) In the Gospel accounts, Jesus associates lowering and exaltation.

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Mt 23: 12; Lk 14: 11; 18: 14)

Similarly, when Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit to his disciples, he refers to a departure. By departing with His body, Christ can come spiritually. 

"But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you."(John 16: 7) 

Whether his departure is by death or his departure is by Ascension, Jesus is lifted up, first on the cross and then in glory. 

"And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." (John 12: 32)"

"And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." (John 3: 14-15)" 

"When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father has taught me." (John 8: 28) 

Whoever acknowledges that Jesus Christ is God, the Savior Messiah, he shall be saved.

For St. John, death and Ascension are two events, which evoke an elevation. 

Saint Paul for his part, speaks of two opposite movements: a descent into hell "in the lower parts of the earth" and then an ascent, a glorious elevation "above all the heavens." (Eph. 4: 9 s).

In the christological hymn of the Letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul shows that Christ "humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name." (Phil. 2: 9)

There are forty days between Easter and Ascension. After the Resurrection of Christ, on several occasions, the disciples saw Him appear and then disappear. Thus, Jesus prepared them for his final departure from earthly life. He spoke of the kingdom of God (Acts. 1: 3). The disciples in turn did not understand that the earthly mission of Jesus was completed; they thought it was time to establish a national political realm.

"Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1: 6). 

In reality, this is a spiritual realm where the strength of the Holy Spirit unfolds. 

Before being taken up to heaven, Jesus entrusts a mission to his disciples; he sends them to proclaim the gospel to all nations.

 

"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Mt 28: 18) 

The evangelist Mark describes this state: “So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God." (Mark 16: 19)

Jesus will come. How will this coming take place?

We have the testimony of the angels: "Jesus will come in the way you saw him go into heaven", in other words by his ascension into the cloud. It is thanks to his departure and his divine elevation that He can come on the cloud in this divine manner. This coming is imminent. "Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven."  (Acts. 1: 11) 

Angels do not say "He will return". They say "He will come like that." This is the coming of the Son of man "in the clouds of heaven." In other words, look to the earth, it is on earth that Christ will come by his Spirit.

The disciples should act as witnesses in this realm and extend the kingdom unto the ends of the earth. "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.

 

And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Mt 28: 19)      

 

Jean-Claude, ihs

The Mystery of the Ascension

of our Lord Jesus Christ

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