28 April 2010

The Second Glorious Mystery

The Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven

Please forgive me if I get a little distraught here but I have always had a problem with this mystery.  Why does Jesus Ascend into Heaven?  If Jesus is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity this moment in the Gospel makes no sense.  The problem is that at every single moment Christ is already in heaven in the presence of His Father.  Heaven is not a "place" in the technical sense and so there is no "place" to go to in order to get to heaven.  Upward does not equal heavenward.  In one sense it can be said that where there is Jesus, so too there is heaven.  But, where does He go and why does He go up till the Apostles can no longer see Him in the sky?  This is all very strange.  I would never be so impious to deny this action of Christ nor would I be so vile as to deny that the Scriptures are recounting a historical fact.  However, I have never been able to reconcile this doctrine in my own mind.  However, maybe I'm approaching the mystery from the wrong angle.

I would suggest (to myself as well as to the reader) that perhaps the clue is found in the Transfiguration.  As the Transfiguration is a manifestation of Christ's glory as God, so too is the Ascension.  It is a Theophany which are always directed to instruct our weak human intellect about God's true nature.  This leads me to consider its Old Testament foreshadowing.  The scene of the Ascension brings to mind the assumption of Elijah into heaven while Elisha (and presumably the rest of his prophetic band) bore witness.  The similarity is striking but the differences are stunning in what they say about Christ.  Elijah was taken in a chariot of fire, the instrument of God's power, "up" to heaven.  But Jesus ascends to heaven of His own power, naming Him God.  Elijah imparts a "double-portion" of his own power to Elisha.  Christ commissions the Apostles giving them Power over every living thing.  The sacrament of Elijah's power is the gift of his mantel but Christ will shortly gift His Holy Spirit.  Elisha continues the prophetic mission of Elijah.  The Apostles (and especially Peter in the Acts) continue the salvific mission of the Lord.  I'm sure that much more could be said about this moment in the Pasch of Christ but this should be enough foster a deeper meditation.  Lord, unveil my eyes and give me Your Holy Spirit so that I may see deeper and realize the magnificence of the Revelation of Your very Self.


Lals said...

Hello Brother.

Forgive me for the simplicity of my comments, but honestly... why wouldn't He ascend into heaven? Seriously. Yes, as the second person of the trinity He is and always has been in heaven. But as the second person of the trinity, He became human, and as humans our goal is ultimately to get to heaven and be in full union with God. Isn't Christ just showing us the way?

Love you!

PS. SO EXCITED that you're reflecting on the Glorious Mysteries -- my favourite!!!

Br. Gabriel Thomas Mosher, OP said...

I agree with you but the problem is that in every moment of the Incarnation Christ was full united to His Father. Also, I can't see how it is "showing us the way" when the way is not "up" in any sense of the term. The way that Christ taught us to get to heaven (complete union with God) was to follow His commandments. This is also complicated by the fact that only Christ can Ascend. Ascension is something completely out of our grasp - even for the Blessed Mother. So, for the time being I'm sticking with the Elijah parallel.