Tuesday, October 1, 2013

50 Days of Prayer - Day 39

[To go to a specific day's post in our 50 Days of Prayer, click on one of the days listed to the right. For an explanation of what the 50 Days of Prayer is about, click here. If you've missed some days, just jump in and join us anyway!] 


Day Thirty-Nine

The Ascension



The Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord does not complete the story.  "It is enough" and the debt is paid, but the long denoument continues.

Jesus, in ascending, leads the way and goes "to prepare a place for us" ...

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)

So there is the promise of His return, and also the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit ...

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

These verses also refer to His passion and death, for Jesus was speaking to His disciples before either event happened.  And you find this a lot in Scripture, isolated events resonate in every direction, backwards and forwards through time, connected with other events in a deep and mysterious way.   Here Jesus is speaking of His "going away" as His death, but is also on another level talking about His "going away" in His ascension.  He speaks of His return meaning both His resurrection from the dead as well as His second coming at the end of time.

And these multiple layers of meaning, revealed only as time is drawn out or as revelation takes root and grows - these multiple layers can be seen when Paul says, after the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension ...

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.  (Col 1:24) 

He is not saying that Christ's suffering is not sufficient, but that it is not complete or "filled up" in time.  Christ dies on the Cross once, but that one death is made present again at every Catholic Mass.  And since we are his Body, our sufferings are part of His.  We share in the completion of His perfect work - the Passion; and because of this we also share in His resurrection and ascension - both now and in the past and in the future.

When Christ leaves the disciples 40 days after that first Easter, He is leaving His Body behind - the Body of Christ which is the Church and His holy Eucharist; and we, as members of His Body complete or "fill up" what remains to be filled of His afflictions; which ended once in one sense but in another sense continue forever.  It is a great honor to participate in this, a sharing in an act that transcends time and cuts across the millenia.

So as we pray a decade of the Rosary meditating upon the Ascension, consider how one event in Scripture is analogous to and repeated in many other events; and how though Christ is physically in heaven, He is also still here physically on earth, in His Body the Church, in His Mass, and spiritually in the Advocate, who dwells within us.

But more on the Advocate two days hence!

Let us pray ...

 To you, Immaculate Heart of Mary, we consecrate ourselves – our hearts, minds, wills and lives and all those works we undertake so they may be for the glory of God, for the sake of the Gospel and the salvation of souls. Holy Mother, our Queen and our Joy, give to our hearts the dimensions of yours and form us in the image of your beloved Son.

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