2nd Glorious Mystery: The Ascension

Some years ago I posted a “Patristic Rosary Project”.  Here is the post for the…

2nd Glorious Mystery: The Ascension

Everything about the life of the Lord is a blessing for us.  After His resurrection the Lord blessed the Apostles with His presence, gloriously risen.  When His earthly work with them was completed, He very explicitly blessed them.  “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.” (Luke 24:50-51).  Even the Lord’s departure from us was a blessing and it occurred in the midst of Christ’s explicit blessing of His apostles.  Venerable Bede (+735) speaks of the Lord’s blessing:

Our Redeemer appeared in the flesh to take away sins, remove what humans deserved because of the first curse, and grant believers an inheritance of everlasting blessing.  He rightly concluded all that He did in the world with words of blessing.  He showed that He was the very one of whom it was said, “For indeed He who gave the law will give a blessing.”  (Ps 83:8 Vulgate)  It is appropriate that He led those who He blessed out to Bethany, which is interpreted “house of obedience”.  Contempt and pride deserved a curse, but obedience deserved a blessing.  The Lord Himself was made obedient to His Father even unto death, so that He might restore the lost grace of blessing to the world.  He gives the blessing of heavenly life only to those who strive in the holy Church to comply with the divine commands. [Homilies on the Gospels 11.15]

Remember that for Bede, like most of the Fathers, the details have spiritual meanings.  Even the place to which the Lord led the Apostles meant something:

We must not pass over the fact that Bethany is on the slope of the Mount of Olives.  Just as Bethany represents a Church obedient to the commands of the Lord, so the Mount of Olives quite fittingly represents the very Person of our Lord.  Appearing in the flesh, he excels all the saints, who are simply human beings, by the loftiness of His dignity and the grace of His spiritual power.

St. Cyril of Alexandria (+444) speaks of the blessing the Lord confers:

Having blessed them and gone ahead a little, he was carried up into heaven so that He might share the Father’s throne even with the flesh that was united to Him.  The Word made this new pathway for us when He appeared in human form.  After this, and in due time, He will come again in the glory of His Father with the angels and will take us up to be with Him.  Let is glorify Him.

We may not at all times remember that even at this very instant our human nature is, in the divine Person of Our Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father.  We are therefore in a state of “already but not yet”: humanity is enthroned in heaven sharing something of God’s glory, and yet we are still here, awaiting the final realization of all Christ accomplished.  St. Leo the Great (+461) pries this open:

Dearly beloved, through all this time between the resurrection of the Lord and His ascension, the providence of God thought of this, taught this and penetrated their eyes and hearts.  He wanted them to recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as truly risen, who was truly born, truly suffered  and truly died.  The manifest truth strengthened the blessed apostles and all the disciples who were frightened by His death on the

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