The Ascension

May 31, 2019

The Pastor's Page

The Seventh Sunday of Easter is the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, how the Father lifted the Son from the earth after the Resurrection, bought him back to heaven, and enthroned him in glory and power at his right hand (Mk 16:19; Acts 2:33; 5:31; 7:55,56; Eph 1:20). The Ascension is a major mystery of our Christian faith, so important that it is the second Glorious Mystery of the Rosary.

AscensionAscension is relatively rare in Scripture. In fact, only two ascensions are reported directly, Elijah in the Old Testament (2 Kgs 2:11) and Jesus in the New Testament (Mk 16:19; Lk 24:51; Acts 1:9). Elijah’s Ascension was very dramatic. While he was conversing with his successor, Elisha the prophet, “a fiery chariot and fiery horses came between the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.” Jesus “was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight” (Acts 1:9). While there is no biblical account, our Tradition also holds that Mary was assumed into heaven.

The Ascension completed the glorification that the Father began when he raised Jesus from the dead. God did what human beings failed to do. After Jesus suffered his Passion, no one said thank you. After Jesus laid down his life on the Cross for our salvation, no one offered praise. So God “greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:9), placed him “far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion” (Eph 1:21), and “put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things” (Eph 1:22). Thus, Jesus was enthroned as king of heaven and earth.

Many great things were accomplished through the Ascension. It confirmed Jesus’ identity as the Son of God and further underscored his divinity. The heavenly throne gives Jesus global and universal authority, and serves as the proper place for him to receive our praise and adoration which he so rightfully deserves. The disciples were present to witness the Ascension so their faith, which was still faltering, might be strengthened. It paved the way to heaven: where Jesus has gone we may follow. With the Ascension Jesus is no longer physically confined to a particular time or place so he might be spiritually present to all people at all times in all places. His departure set the stage for him to bestow the gift of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost. It also officially ended his earthly ministry of preaching and healing, a mission that he transferred to his disciples.

Jesus is eternally present at the right hand of God where he intercedes for us (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25; 1 Jn 2:1). Jesus has his Father’s ear and his favor. Jesus knows what we need and speaks on our behalf. He is our Advocate. He pleads our cause. He makes intercession for us, so that God will bless us with everything that we need in this life and grant us a share in his eternal glory in the life to come.

About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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