The Ascension of Christ and His Glorified Existence
by Fr. William G. Most
Forty days after his Resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven. During this period
between his Resurrection and Ascension, He actually gave the primacy He had promised to
Peter, as we read in John 21. The many events between His resurrection and ascension
preclude the theory that He ascended on Easter. His ascension does not mean that heaven is
somewhere up in space. This was a way of making clear that He was leaving the present mode
of existence. St. Paul in Colossians 3:1 urges us to live our lives now as if we had
already died, had risen, and had ascended with Him. In a mystical sense we have done that,
in that our Head has done that. In the physical sense it is still in the future.
He ascended to receive the glory due to Him as conqueror of sin and death (Philippians
2:8-11); to be our Mediator and advocate with the Father (Hebrews 9:24); to send the Holy
Spirit as He had promised at the Last Supper (John 16:7); and to prepare a place for us as
He also promised (John 14:2).
Now He is seated at the Father's right hand, which means that, as He said, "all
power has been given to Me in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). He always had that
power as God, but now He exercises it as man, as King of the Universe, with His Mother
beside Him as Queen of the Universe.
As God He is everywhere, but not as man, though He is present on earth most widely in
the Holy Eucharist, even as man.
Besides this real bodily presence in the Eucharist, Christ is present on earth in
other, lesser ways. Vatican II explained the various forms of presence, in the
Constitution on the Liturgy, # 7: "Christ is always present to His Church, especially
in liturgical actions. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass in the person of the
priest; 'He is the same one, now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered
Himself on the Cross [citing the Council of Trent].' But He is most greatly present under
the Eucharistic species. He is present by His power in the Sacraments, so that when anyone
baptizes, Christ Himself baptizes. He is present in His word, for He speaks when the
Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, finally, when the Church prays
and sings the Psalms, He who promised 'Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I
am in their midst'"(Matthew 18:20).
Taken from The Basic Catholic Catechism
PART FOUR: The Apostles' Creed VI-VIII
Sixth Article: "He ascended into heaven; He sits at the right hand of God the Father
By Rev. William G. Most. (c) Copyright 1990 by William G. Most
Continue on to Q&A on the Ascension.