Monday, May 26, 2014

The Ascension of the Lord

This week the church focuses out attention on the ascension. That is Jesus returning to heaven after the resurrection. It is considered one of the glorious mysteries yet it does have a sad side. Jesus leaves us. Why? I mean He does not have to. In some ways it would be pretty awesome if Jesus just stayed on earth so nobody could ever doubt the resurrection. He does not do that. Partly it is because God chooses to work through faith. He gave us 40 days of appearances that are convincing but not overwhelming. He did not go to the temple and show Himself to everyone. He appeared to the disciples which is convincing yet appearing to His enemies would be more convincing. He appeared to St Paul who was a major enemy yet that is still just one guy. So the bases are covered but there is still wiggle room if you really want to deny it.

Beyond that, why did Jesus ascend? His goal was not just to build something for us on earth. His goal was to bring us to heaven. He can't stay here for the same reason we can't stay here. We are made to be with God. We forget that. We get so caught up in out day to day struggles we lose track of what this life is all about. The most important outcome of this life is determining whether we go to heaven or hell. Everything else pales by comparison. Jesus is in heaven. He is fully human. That means if He can go we can go. There is nothing we should want more.

The other reason Jesus ascended is so that the Holy Spirit could come. The Kingdom of God is not simply going to be brought about by Jesus. He wants to include us in that mission. That happens through the Holy Spirit. That is where we get power. That is how we become witnesses. It is how the grace of God can spread and renew the face of the earth. So we get something worthwhile to spend out lives on. 

Think about the gospel:
All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.
This is called The Great Commission. The striking thing about it is the absolutes. Jesus claims all power. He sends them to all nations. They are to baptize into the trinity which is all of God. The disciples are to observe all commands. Jesus will be with them all the time. Nothing is partial. It is not the best they can do. They must change the entire world. They must change it completely.

Think about it. They are just a few. Acts says about 120 people. They are not rich. They are not especially talented. They don't hold high office. They have just recently learned about God the Father. Jesus they know but the whole death and resurrection thing has blown their mind. The Holy Spirit? They know almost nothing about Him. Yet they are going to teach the world this gospel? 

This is the task we have to. Something we are totally incompetent to do. Yet Jesus says He will be with us. Never mind how you are going to change the world. Just go. Go and I will be with you. What more do you need to know? 


  1. Here is the truth.
    It is also a hinderance to 'Go and make disciples'.
    According to the Cardinal and the FIUV everybody does not have to be a disciple in England in 2014 to be saved.

    May 29, 2014
    Cardinal Nicols and FIUV are telling a falsehood. Why do rank and file Catholics have to accept it?

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    The church does leave open the possibility that some may be saved that are not explicitly members of the visible Catholic church. How common that will be has been the subject of much speculation. I have blogged about that before. The church has not bound us to any one answer.

    I do think one of the basics to that answer is that becoming Catholic should make you more likely to be saved and more likely to have assurance of salvation. I am not talking about the absolute assurance of Calvinism but a moral assurance that if we persevere we will be saved. That should give us real incentive to remain Catholic and to encourage others to become Catholic. There are many reasons why being Catholic is good but saying it is irrelevant to salvation is a big mistake and likely to produce sloth.

    I do not live in England so I don't know Cardinal Nichols and the FIUV. I can only guess that what they say is probably not heresy but may fail to tell the whole story. Heresy is when you embrace one truth and deny another. More often on this issue you see people emphasize one truth and fail to mention another but never actually deny it. That might make sense in some contexts but if it happens all the time you begin to wonder.