Ascension

Jesus' ascension to heaven depicted by John Singleton Copley, 1775 [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Jesus' ascension to heaven depicted by John Singleton Copley, 1775 [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

According to the scriptures, Jesus said goodbye to his disciples and was carried up into heaven, disappearing into a cloud. Jesus made no more bodily appearances within time and space as we know them. Jesus, God Incarnate, had come to the end of his task.

The Ascension from this world completed the redemption of humanity. For since God had put himself in our place through the Incarnation, and then, in Easter, broken the power of death; now, with Christ, our status is raised higher than the angels for the Ascension takes humanity where we could not go since we were cast out of paradise. The Ascension should lift our attention from the local to the universal, from our computer screens and smart phones to the celestial height. In Easter we celebrate Christ's victory over death. In the Ascension we celebrate his entrance into heaven with the gate open for us to follow.

The early Christians clearly appreciated the Ascension, and called this day the crown of all Christian feasts. St. Augustine said this festival confirms the grace of all the festivals of the church together, for without the Ascension, the reality of every festival would perish. Unless the savior had ascended into heaven, his nativity would have come to nothing and his passion would have born no fruit for us, and his most holy resurrection would have been worthless. I don’t know if I completely agree with Augustine but let us celebrate the Ascension for what it is, an integral parts of God’s redeeming work, as we acknowledge, sometimes too much by rote, when we recite the creeds.   

Fr. Christopher+