Life Of Christ:
Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross
Resurrection Of Jesus
Jesus Appears Repeatedly To His Disciples
Ascension Of Jesus, And The Descent Of The Holy Ghost
Read More Articles About: Life Of Christ
Ascension Of Jesus, And The Descent Of The Holy Ghost
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
AFTER His resurrection, our blessed Lord remained forty days here on earth, appearing, as we have seen, sometimes to all apostles, and sometimes only to some, that He might thereby fully convince them of His being risen, and to accustom them by degrees to miss His corporal presence. During that time He instructed them in the nature and the use of those spiritual powers which He had imparted to them for the good of mankind. What these instructions were in particular, the evangelists do not mention. St. Luke (xxiv. 45) says in generaI, that He "opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures;" St. Matthew (xxviii. 18) and St. Mark (xvi. 15) finish their evangelical history with the divine command to the apostles : " Going, therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned."
Jesus Christ had now finished the work for which He came down from heaven and dwelt amongst us. He had enlightened the world by His doctrine, and redeemed it by His death; He had confirmed the truth of His revealed religion; He had established His Church, which He commands all to hear; He had promised to assist His Church with the Spirit of truth to the end of ages; He had appointed St. Peter and his successors as the universal pastor to preside over the Church, to feed the lambs and the sheep of His flock in His name: nothing more remained but to take possession of that seat of bliss which He had merited for His own sacred humanity, and for us.
Therefore, on the fortieth day after His resurrection, He assembled His apostles. "And He led them out as far as Bethania, and lifting up His hands, He blessed them. And it came to pass, whilst He blessed them, He departed from them, and was carried up to heaven." (John xxiv. 50, 51.) The ascension of Christ took place from Mount Olivet. This mountain having been the scene of His agony and humiliation, was chosen by Him to be the scene of His final glorification. "And when He had said these things, while they looked on, He was raised up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they were beholding Him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments, who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven shall so come as you have seen Him going into heaven. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem within a Sabbath day's journey." (Acts i. 9-11.)
Jesus ascended as man, both body and soul; for as God He was never absent from heaven, His divinity being always everywhere present at the same time, and filling all places with its immensity. He ascended by His own almighty power, and not by the help of another. He ascended in a bright cloud, accompanied by the souls of the holy patriarchs, prophets, and saints of the Old Testament, whom He released from their captivity and led in triumph to heaven. " Oh, with what rapturous joy," ex-claims St. Jerome, " did all the angelic powers come forth to meet and welcome the Son of God on the day of His glorious entry into heaven!" The angels were surprised, the archangels were astonished, to behold our human nature exalted thus by Him; the cherubim and seraphim were in ecstasies to see their King, after gaining a complete victory over sin, death, and hell, taking possession of the realms of everlasting bliss in an immortal and glorified body that outshone the brightness of a thousand suns.
Blessed Mother Mary, we congratulate thee on thy Son's triumph! Holy angels, we sympathize with you in your welcome to your King! But first, and above all, we greet Thee, Jesus, our God, our Lord, our Saviour, and our All Behold, we have tried to follow Thee faithfully in prayer, study, and meditation, through Thy life, sufferings, and death, to Thy present hour of triumph.
Grant that we may one day follow Thee in reality to the kingdom of heaven!
Before His ascension, our blessed Lord had commanded the apostles not to leave Jerusalem until they should have received the Holy Ghost, whom He promised to send them. " He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard (saith He) by My mouth." (Acts i. 4.) In obedience to that order, they returned from Mount Olivet to Jerusalem, where they re-tired, it is believed, into the room of the Last Supper, and persevered unanimously in prayer with the women, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus. During that interval St. Peter began to exercise his apostolical supremacy he informed his brethren that, according to the Holy Scriptures, they must fill the place of Judas Iscariot, who, by his treacherous prevarication, had fallen from the apostleship, and must therefore choose some one of them who had followed Jesus from the time of His baptism to the day of His ascension, and had been witness of His resurrection. Two were nominated in preference to all others, Matthias and Joseph surnamed the Just. To determine who was to be chosen, they had recourse to lots, devoutly praying to God that He would be pleased to manifest His will to them. The lot fell upon Matthias, and he was consequently associated with the other eleven apostles.
"And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men out of every nation under heaven. And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these that speak Galileans, and how have we heard every man our own tongue wherein we were born? Parthians and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews also and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all astonished, and wondered, saying one to another: What meaneth this? But others mocking said : These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke to them : Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you and with your ears receive my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day: but this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass, in the last days (saith the Lord) I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And upon My servants indeed, and upon My handmaids will I pour out in those days of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy : and I will show wonders in the heaven above, and signs on the earth beneath, blood and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and manifest day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as you also know: this same being delivered up, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you by the hands of wicked men have crucified and slain. . . This Jesus hath God raised again, whereof all we are witnesses. Being exalted therefore by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath poured forth this which you see and hear." (Acts ii. 1-33.)
On that day of Pentecost Christ planted His Church as an everlasting monument of His victory. To the latest posterity this monument shall stand, and defy every effort that either man or devils can make against it. The Spirit of truth shall abide with the Church, and teach her all truth to the end of the world. Thus Christ fulfils His farewell promise to His apostles: " Behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." (Matt. xxviii. 20.)
Christ continues to live in His Church, as the Redeemer and High-Priest, in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, in the sacraments, and other means of grace.
Christ lives in His Church as a Teacher of truth and heavenly wisdom, by guiding her councils through the Holy Ghost, and by saving the Popes, as heads of the Church, from error in their definitions of faith and morals.
Christ lives in His Church as King, by clothing His representatives, the priests, according to their various ranks, with divine authority, and by maintaining through their instrumentality God's kingdom on earth in discipline, peace, and tranquillity.
Christ lives in His Church by leading individuals to extraordinary holiness, and creating, in the monastic life and other religious associations, schools of the highest virtue and perfection for those whom He calls to the observance of the evangelical counsels.
Christ lives in His Church despised and crucified, inasmuch as His doctrines have been misrepresented, denied, and rejected by misguided men in all ages, as in His own lifetime; and inasmuch as His faithful followers individually, and His holy Church in general, have been, in private and in public, violently attacked and persecuted, wronged and misrepresented by declared enemies and treacherous friends.
Christ lives in His Church as the glorious Conqueror. For the Church, even in the midst of her greatest trials and under severest oppression, has won victory after victory, triumph after triumph. "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock." (Matt. vii. 25.)