"Jesus’ Ascension Is a Foretaste of Our Heavenly Joy and Triumph”

Seventh Sunday after Easter
24 May 2021



“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up to heaven? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven shall come in the same way as you have seen Him going up to heaven.” Acts 1:11

Today’s reflection is on Our Lord’s Ascension into heaven which we celebrated this past Thursday. We must raise our thoughts to heaven where Our Lord Jesus has ascended. Pope St. Leo the Great said: “Christ’s Ascension is our ascension; our body has the hope of one day being where its glorious Head has preceded it.” This is what Jesus said on the night before He died: “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself; that where I am you also may be.” Jn. 14: 23. According to Fr. Gabriel, OCD in his book of meditations, Divine Intimacy, “The Ascension is then, a feast of joyful hope, a sweet foretaste of heaven. By going before us, Jesus our Head has given us the right to follow Him there some day, and we can even say with St. Leo, ‘In the person of Christ, we have penetrated the heights of heaven.’ (Roman Breviary) As in Christ Crucified, we die to sin; as in the Risen Christ, we rise to the life of grace, so too, we are raised up to heaven in the Ascension of Christ. This vital participation in Christ’s mysteries is the essential consequence of our incorporation in Him. He is our Head; we, as His members, are totally dependent upon him and intimately bound to His destiny. ‘God, who is rich in mercy,’ says St. Paul, ‘for His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us...hath quickened us together in Christ... and hast raised us up... and hath made us sit together in the heavenly place through Christ Jesus.’ Eph. 2:4-6 Our right to heaven has been given us, our place is ready; it is for us to live in such a way that we may occupy it someday.” Fr. Gabriel, Divine Intimacy,” p. 535

“...ascending on high, He hath led captivity captive.” Ps. 67:19


In the Mass for the Ascension, the Alleluia verses give us a powerful prophecy of the Messias leading souls into heaven: “Alleluia. The Lord is in Sinai, in the holy place; ascending on high, He hath led captivity captive.” Ps. 67:19 This image of captives being led into the city of their conquerors was common in Rome when victorious generals would lead their conquests, as their trophies, into the imperial city. So, too, Jesus will lead those whom He has redeemed into heaven as Dom Prosper Gueranger in The Liturgical Year, Vol.9 explains: “The two Alleluia-versicles give us the words of the royal psalmist, wherein he celebrates the glorious Ascension of the future Messias, the acclamation of the angels, the loud music of heaven’s trumpets, the gorgeous pageant of the countless fortunate captives of limbo whom the conqueror leads up, as His trophy, to heaven.” Gueranger, p. 179. How blessed shall we be who are led into heaven as trophies of Christ’s glorious redemption.

“Sweet Sorrow of Christ’s Ascension”


Although Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven has an element of sorrow, Jesus told us that our “sorrow will be turned to joy.” (Jn. 16:20) We can see this especially if we look at Jesus’ Ascension through the eyes of His beloved Mother Mary. The disciples of Jesus used to wonder which of the two sentiments, sadness or joy, had priority in Our Lady’s heart when Jesus ascended into heaven. Dom Prosper Gueranger comments on this question: “They (disciples) used to ask themselves, which of the two sentiments was uppermost in her maternal heart, --sadness, that she was to see her Jesus no more, or joy, that He was now going to enter into the glory He so infinitely deserved. The answer was soon found: had not Jesus said to His disciples: ‘If ye loved Me, ye would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father’; Jn. 14:28 Now, who loved Jesus as Mary did? The Mother’s heart, then, was full of joy at parting with Him. How was she to think of herself, when there was question of the triumph of her Son and her God? Could she that had witnessed the scene of Calvary, do less than desire to see Him glorified, whom she knew to be the sovereign Lord of all things, -- Him whom, but a short time ago, she had seen rejected by His people, blasphemed, and dying the most ignominious and cruel of deaths?” Gueranger, p. 170

Joy and Triumph in the Ascension

Dom Gueranger again reminds us of the meaning of Jesus’ Ascension: “He has ascended, a Saviour; He is to return a Judge: between these two events is comprised the whole life of the Church on earth. We are therefore living under the reign of Jesus as our Saviour, for He has said: ‘God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved by Him:’ (Jn. 3:17) and to carry out this merciful design He has been giving to His disciples the mission to go throughout the whole world, and invite men, while yet there is time, to accept the mystery of salvation. .... They love Jesus; they rejoice at the thought of His having entered into His rest. ‘They went back into Jerusalem with great joy.’ Lk. 24:52 These few simple words of the Gospel indicate the spirit of this admirable feast of the Ascension: it is a festival which, not withstanding its soft tinge of sadness, is, more than any other expressive of joy and triumph.” Gueranger, p. 173-4

0 views
  • White Facebook Icon
  • YouTube
  • White Twitter Icon
  • White Instagram Icon