Okay, where did He go??

The Ascension of Jesus to the Father, forty days after the resurrection, is often lost on the Christian imagination. What exactly is it? Is it a mere dramatic exit from the stage of history for Jesus, who leaves us behind to now get our sea legs and fend for ourselves? Or is it Jesus’ escape from this world to go prepare a better place for us, so we too can also one day finally escape to heaven?

No!

The Ascension is the definitive rescue of creation from sin, corruption and death. The Ascension is the return of all creation, by Christ’s priestly humanity, to the Father as an ongoing event of liberation, thanksgiving and joy. The Ascension means that the human heart of God now forever beats in the eternity of the Trinity! In fact, countless human hearts now ever beat there, since Christ in the Ascension brings back to the Father something He did not have when He first “came down from heaven” — our humanity. Christ brings us back with Him as members of His risen Body.

The Ascension brings all history to its final End. You see, in Scripture the drama of history can be summed up very simply: all things come from God, and all things will return to God. Like it or not, believe it or not, this is an inexorable law.

But here’s a key point: God created us in His image to be the hinge, the point of return on which history pivots God’s gift of creation back toward Him as a grateful return. This is the deepest meaning of the priestly nature of humanity. I might say more specifically, our freedom is the real priestly hinge, the pivot (Heb. 10:5-10). And we are allowed by God’s majestic gift of freedom to either say Yes or No. Tragically, the Original depraved ingratitude of our No — of sin — crippled our freedom, unhinged the hinge, tilted the pivot off center, and plunged creation headlong into death by means of our stillborn priesthood.

But God, over-filled with compassion, became Man to rescue us, to empower us and to restore us with us! By becoming Man, by living, dying, rising as a Yes (2 Cor. 1:19), and establishing the Eucharistic Sacrifice as the new Hinge, new Pivot and everlasting Vocation of humanity, Christ reconstituted and perfected our priestly calling (John 19:30).

Then, by Ascending to the Father as the event of Final Return, and sending to us His fiery Spirit at Pentecost, Christ opened up His Priesthood — our priesthood — empowering us to co-fulfill this titanic Vocation with Him. Hallelujah!!!

When I see the heavens, the work of your hands,
the moon and the stars which you arranged,
what is man that you should keep him in mind,
mortal man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him little less than a god;
with glory and honor you crowned him,
gave him power over the works of your hands,
put all things under his feet. – Psalm 8:4-7

The Church, Christ’s Body, has been called and empowered at every moment to be uplifting, raising, dragging, offering Upward all of creation back to the Father through, with and in Christ in an ongoing Ascending rescue mission of Return (Phil. 3:14).

My God, it’s going on right now as you read. Can you feel it quaking in you?

But how can one see signs of that liberating, compassionate Ascension empowering humanity to say Yes and embrace her priesthood again? See Church….

3 comments on “Okay, where did He go??

  1. Katy says:

    Thanks, as always, for writing and sharing, Tom. I´d be eager for your (or others) thoughts on this.

    A question on which I’ve been ruminating is: Is the Ascension something that happens ¨out there¨ or ¨in here¨? Outside of me, or in my heart? And the question is propagated by this verse from Acts 1. It seems to say one thing, then contradict it. But reflection and resting with it has proven wonderful.

    ¨When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.¨

    Is Jesus physically lifted off the earth, ¨up up and away¨? Or is something else happening? And if Jesus is physically lifted off the earth, is this not this a visible sign of an invisible reality happening in the hearts of all those present? What, then, is happening?

    It seems that *whatever* is happening in Acts gives those present a reason to look up. It stretches them physically. During Holy Week 2017, I remember distinctly coming to know ¨If the Passion of Christ doesn’t happen in my heart, it happens nowhere.¨ So too with the Ascension. If Christ does not ascend in my heart, He ascends nowhere. Could it be that Christ´s Ascension is Him revealing ¨I dwell with the Father and the Holy Spirit. And I dwell with Him *IN YOUR HEART*? Receiving this from Him is certainly be cause for my head to tilt back, my neck to lengthen, my chest to expand with air. I must make more room. Coming to know this Christ who is born in my heart, lives in my heart, dies in my heart, resurrects in my heart, and ascends *in my heart* is certainly cause for physical transformation, even now. Perhaps I have a gut instinct to look up because we think ¨He is greater than I…and what is greater is outside, above and beyond me.¨ But perhaps the men in white garments come to reveal the unimaginable greatness that ¨Yes, he is greater than you. But his dwelling place is WITH YOU. There is no need to look above, around, or beyond. He is HERE.¨ And isn’t *that* what really moves the dear hearts of mankind?

    One caveat. While I do think that the Ascension (and every other reality) must be experienced in our hearts or else nowhere at all, this doesn’t mean it is selfish, abstract, or subjective to the point of being unrelatable to others. The beauty of getting to know Christ is coming to know what the Ascension *looks* like incarnated. So it becomes generous, concrete, and rings of truth and invitation to life. – – – – – Jesus, how does your Ascension transform my relationships, experiences, and things of the day? Jesus, how does your Ascension change me? How does your Ascension expand my heart to be more fully human? Jesus, how does your Ascension, your coming to dwell with the Father and Spirit in my heart, bring me deeper into the reality of my sinfulness, my desire for you, your mercy, and you as Savior?

    Thanks again for your reflection, which prompts sharing from me.

    • Katy, I will reply soon — this is so wonderful. I was away for a while so am just catching up here.
      He is HERE! Especially as the Spirit falls this night again, bearing the upward Ascending Christ down into the world afresh.
      Veni!

      • Katy Dornbos says:

        Tom,
        Thanks for taking the time to respond even briefly. I’m grateful for the exchange. A happy Pentecost to you and your family. He is HERE!!
        Katy

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