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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Philip Endean SJ: Ascension

Last Thursday I saw a post about the Ascension at Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo - Benedictus bread wheat - which noted that Ascension day came 40 days after Easter, and I realized, not growing up Christian, that I always think of Ascension as being on Sunday instead (in the US, only Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and the state of Nebraska celebrate on Thusrday).

Today I saw a post on the Ascension at Thinking Faith by Philip Endean SJ that discusses the 'when' of the Ascension. As I mentioned in my earlier post on the Ascension, I don't really like the idea of Jesus leaving, and Fr. Endean addresses that as well. Here's just a bit of the article ...

Ascension, New Creation and the First Day of the Week

[...] Many of us imagine the Ascension, despite the psalmist’s ‘merry noise’ (Psalms 47:5 [Coverdale Bible]), as a moment of parting. We are saying goodbye to someone who will be, despite all the talk of promise, absent from us; and the exuberant notes of celebration, as at a farewell do or a retirement bash, can mask anxiety about how we are going to cope without the one whom we have loved.


If there is any hint of letdown, of being left on our own, in our feelings about the Ascension (and I’ll put my hand up and confess to having often preached in such terms), then we have too narrow a sense of what happened at Easter. We are still captivated by a childish picture of Jesus coming back for a bit more of the same. The Ascension appears as a rerun of Good Friday—more triumphant in tone, certainly, and more appropriate to the Son of God, but still fundamentally a withdrawal, a moment of parting. But what happens at Easter is not a return to what we had before. Rather, heaven is thrown open. The Resurrection appearances are not a reversal of ‘the death he died … once for all’, but rather revelations of ‘the life he lives … to God’ (Romans 6:9). The temple veil is torn away; the boundaries between God’s life and ours are removed. What God began in the earthly life of Jesus—the establishment of the divine Kingdom—is continuing. Nothing will ever stop it. ‘See, the home of God is among mortals.’ (Revelation 21:3) .......

When I think of Ascension, I think of that movie Jesus .... at the end of the film, the post-resurrection Jesus tells the disciples "I am with you always, even to the end of the world" and then the scene shifts and we see Jesus dressed in contemporary garb encountering some children in the present. It's said that Jesus' ascension was necessary because otherwise the Holy Spirit wouldn't have been sent to us (but does that mean no one ever had the indwelling Spirit before Jesus ascended?) and that Jesus as ascended is the only way he could be with us all in a universal sense (but why couldn't he be both here and everywhere too - won't that be the situation in heaven?). OK, I'm obviously no theologian :) but I'm willing to second-guess the Ascension if it would mean I could have Jesus still around, as in this last scene from the movie (edited out of the US version) ........


Anonymous Victor said...

Crystal, I personally can't wait for the real Jesus to come back so that He can show and tell all of His followers especially U>S (usual sinners) so called Catholic on how we should treat His Bride, I mean His Church.

I hear ya! I don't exactly know what you mean again Victor! :)


6:02 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

Last Thursday was Ascension Day according to the Orthodox calendar. I was there at the Chapel of the Ascension with the many Orthodox faithful for their various liturgies. It was possible to feel something very ancient and special, even to visualize in my imagination the event on that first Ascension Day.

11:48 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


It would be neat to see that rock with the supposed footprint of Jesus when he began the ascension - I think you had a post about it once.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

Actually it was very moving. But the guard shooed me out after only a few photos. Many were waiting in line to enter the small chapel and kiss the stone.
Yes, I post once before, but that was when I had never really been there and only had a drive-by shot of the mosque part.

1:24 PM  

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