The ongoing Ascension

By Fr W Nkomo

By his Incarnation, Jesus Christ weds divinity to humanity. By his Ascension, he leads humanity home to God. “The Ascension,” Corbon writes, “is the decisive turning point. . . the beginning of a new time: the liturgy of the last times.” This eschatological liturgy is celebrated in its fullness by the ascended Christ “seated at the right hand” of the Father.

It is celebrated on earth in via, yet truly, in that the holy banquet in which Christ is received. An earthly liturgy that is, inseparably, remembrance of Christ’s passion and pledge of future glory. On this day of the ascension the Church celebrates humanity’s arrival to our home in heaven through Christ the head of the Church. We celebrate this special feast by partaking in the sacrament of the Eucharist “Mass” in it according to Fr Robert Imbelli “Heaven and Earth meet, constellated around the ascended Christ who brings humanity into the very heart of the Godhead.”

The fact of both the incarnation and ascension is that Christ did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven (John 3:13).

Through our union with Christ who is our head and we the body we embody these words of Jesus. It is he himself who makes this union possible because Christ he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12). He too has many members, but one body.

Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head. So today we celebrate an ongoing ascension through which we who are inseparable with our Lord are with him in heaven.