Acts 1:1-11; Luke 24:44-53
Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus ascended into Heaven. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in Jesus of Nazareth, this was not a transfer of Jesus' body into a different space, but into a different reality. Following is the homily I preached last week.
The Triune God was present in the beginning, the Father creating through the Word, His Son, and the Holy Spirit hovering over the chaotic nothingness. This God created the human being, male and female, to be in fellowship communion with Himself, therefore with free wills, because automatons could not love their Creator freely. But the creature chose to rebel against the Creator by choosing sin. Yet our Beloved set forth his economy of salvation in the first convent of the Bible: a woman was destined from the very moment of man’s fall to be the New Eve who would bear the new Adam to redeem humanity and all creation and reunite them in love with their creator God, their Beloved.
In the fullness of time, the second person of the Trinity, the Son, the Word, the Logos, became human for us. For thirty something years he lived and taught among us and identified fully with us. This is an amazing and wonderful thing, that the creative Word of God lived among us as a man.
What is equally wondrous is that, after dying for us and rising from the dead for us, and teaching among us for 40 days with a resurrected body, breaking bread and eating with us, he ascended into heaven to sit eternally at the right hand of God the Father.
But “Christ’s ascension, like his resurrection, is not only about him, it is also about us. Christ’s ascension to heaven was not the undoing of the Incarnation. The Incarnation was not a temporary visit….Christ brought humanity home to heaven in the ascension, not only in the sense that his death and resurrection allowed us to enter heaven, and he ascended to prepare a place for us to live with him forever (Jn 14:1-3), but also in the sense that humanity was united with divinity in the Person of Christ forever. Not only were we changed forever, so was he! ‘The Father’s power raised up Christ his Son, and by so doing perfectly introduced his Son’s humanity, including his body, into the Trinity.’ (CCC 648) Christ’s ascension brought his human body and soul to heaven into the Godhead forever.”*
As the Father and the Son share their mutual love for one another which is the Holy Spirit, our humanity is introduced into the divine family of the Trinity. And by the further mystery of faith, we are able to receive the body and blood of our God, Jesus Christ, in His Holy Eucharist now, for our nourishment into sainthood.
*Peter J. Kreeft, Catholic Christianity, p. 81.