Friday, 8 May 2015


Jesus had been crucified; He had died; He had been buried. No wonder the apostles were shocked, scared, when just a few days later, this same Jesus suddenly appeared among them. Not even locked doors had prevented this. To their minds – and who can blame them? - what they saw had to be the ghost of Jesus! 

Jesus set about to convincing them that this was not so.

St. Luke tells us,

“Jesus said, 'Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts stirring in your hearts? See by my hands and my feet that it is I myself. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.' And as he said this he showed them his hands and his feet.

Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, as they were dumbfounded; so he said to them, 'Have you anything here to eat?' And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes,” (Lk. 24.39…)

Afterwards, for the forty days following His resurrection, Jesus had unexpectedly been appearing to His disciples, instructing them, sharing meals with them and then, in an instant, disappearing from them. Gradually He brought them to realize that now He existed bodily in a totally different way from anything they had been accustomed to.

Time came for Jesus to ascend into heaven. Here is how St. Luke described what happened,

“Jesus took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and raising His hands He blessed them. Now as Jesus blessed them, He withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven.

They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; 53 and they were continually in the Temple praising God,” (Lk.24. 50-52).

For them this Ascension leave-taking was the cause for ecstatic joy and thanksgiving.

In St. Mark’s account of the same event he precisely named the place of arrival of the Ascension and how the disciples had reacted…just as Jesus had expected of them.

“And so the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven; there at the right hand of God he took His place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it,” (Ch.16.19-20).

Jesus had not only conquered death. He had conquered the corruption that is expected to follow upon death. Rather, in the completeness of His humanity He was fully alive. His body was re-united to His soul.

The Son of Man, Jesus, had assumed His rightful the place of glory, at the right hand of His Heavenly Father.

The Son of God had taken to Himself a human nature, had become a member of the human family, our Brother Jesus. Throughout His life on earth, in and through His being a bodily person, Jesus had given supreme glory to His Heavenly Father.

In so doing the Son of God made man ennobled the whole of humanity. His Ascension into Heaven speaks to us of the dignity He has brought to the bodiliness of absolutely everybody.

In union with Jesus, as St. Paul tell us, we are to “use our bodies for the glory of God,” (I Cor..20). In so doing all us are meant to become glorious persons.

The lives of each of us are meant to head in the same direction as did the life of Jesus. The Ascension of Jesus into heaven concerns, involves, each one of us. Jesus reassures us of our prospects once our human lives have run their course,

“In my Father's house there are many places to live in; otherwise I would have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you to myself, so that you may be with me where I am,” (Jn.14.3).

He is telling us we should live as people who really want this and are prepared to strive for this. Jesus wants this for everyone, not just for a select few.

It would be supreme folly for any of us to forfeit this by demeaning, shaming, our human bodies by conduct that is unworthy of us and offensive to Almighty God, our Creator.

Bear in mind what St. Paul writes in his Letter to the Ephesians,

“ We are God's work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life,” (Eph.2.10)

Peter Clarke, O.P

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