“We Too Are Already in Heaven with Him”
May 16, 2023
This coming Sunday, we celebrate the Ascension (traditionally celebrated on the
sixth Thursday after Easter, moved to Sunday for the sake of our communal
celebration). We dare to trust and anticipate blessing, as our parish is named
after this mystery of Christ.
In preparation, let us be enriched by the insights of Saint Augustine (d. 430):
Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set
your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right
hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on
earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too
are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not
yet been fulfilled in our bodies.
Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth
all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this
when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and
when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food. Why do we on earth not
strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and
love that unites us to him?
While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with
him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot
be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by
He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he
withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was
in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement:
No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended
from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. These words are explained
by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one
ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the
Son of Man by his union with us, and we, by our union with him, are
children of God.
So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many
members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so
is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body. Out of
compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended
alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but
Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no
distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity
cannot be separated from the head.
(Sermo de Ascensione Domini, Mai 98, 1-7: PLS 2, 429-495)
Yours in our Ascended Lord,
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THE REV. DOMINIQUE PERIDANS