Daniel 7: 14 -
"To Him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed."
OUR LORD AT THE FATHER'S RIGHT HAND
Psalms 109:1 - "The Lord said to my Lord: Sit thou at My right hand: Until I make thy enemies thy footstool."
Saint John Damascene, the holy Doctor of the Church writes in De fide orth 4, 2: page 93, 1104c, the following explanation of the preceding verse:
"By 'the Father's right hand' we understand the glory and honor of divinity, where He Who exists as Son of God before all ages, indeed as God, of one being with the Father, is seated bodily after He became incarnate and His flesh was glorified." In the Catechism of Saint Pius X, page 123 we find "The Lord's Ascension into Heaven and His sitting at the right hand of the Father is the sixth article of faith confessed in the Creed. Jesus Christ went up into Heaven body and soul, to take possession of the Kingdom He won through His death, to prepare for us a place in Heaven."
1. To sit means to abide, to stay. It also means to occupy the throne of judgment. In both meanings of this word, it belongs to Christ to sit at the right hand of the Father, that is, to abide in the Father's glory, and to reign together with the Father.
2. It belongs to Christ as God to have, equally with the Father the identical divine glory, beatitude, and power, This is "sitting at the right hand of the Father." The phrase does not indicate a secondary place, nor a place merely next to the Father. It means that Christ as God rules in absolute equality with the other two divine Persons.
3. And it belongs to Christ as man to sit at the Father's right hand, in the sense that Christ's humanity is dowered with the Father's gifts beyond all other creatures.
4. As God, Christ is equal with the Father, and one with Him in substance; as man, Christ excels all creatures in possessing divine gifts. On both scores, Christ alone holds just title to the place at the Father's right hand. (A Tour of the Summa, Monsignor Paul J. Glenn).
Luke 24: 50 -
"and lifting up His hands, He blessed them."
Christ our high priest, prefigured especially therein by Melchisedech, often have His blessing to His, sometimes by words, as, Peace be to you; sometimes by imposing His hands and now here by lifting up His hands over His Disciples as it were for his farewell. In what form the Scripture doesn't explain, but very likely it is that in the form of the cross, as Jacob the Patriarch blessed his nephews for signification of Christ’s benediction. For now the cross began to be glorious among the faithful, and the Apostles (as it is most certain by the fathers which call it an ancient tradition) used that sign for an external note of benediction. Saint Augustine translated this thusly in Pf. 30 Conc. 3 that Christ Himself, not without cause, would have His sign to be fixed in our foreheads. This is in the fact of shamefacedness, that a Christian man should not be ashamed of the reproach of Christ and what form can a Christian man vie rather to bless himself or others, then that which was dedicated in Christ's death, and is a continual memorial of the same? However it be, that the Bishops and Priests of God's Church bless with an external sign, no man can replicate, be warranted by Christ's Own example and action. NEW TESTAMENT RHEIMS (The preceding was translated by me from old English writing to less old English writing)
Luke 24: 53 -
"And they were always in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen."
Saint Luke begins and ends his gospel with mention of the Temple: 1:9 and 24: 53.
Saint Thomas Aquinas explains in his Summa Theological, III q. 57, a. 1 that it was inappropriate for Christ to remain on earth after the Resurrection, whereas it was appropriate that He should ascend into Heaven, because, although His risen body was already a glorified one, It now receives an increase in glory due to the dignity of the place to which It ascends. Again, referencing Acts 1: 1-11, which is the Epistle for the Feast of the Ascension, we examine the words:
Acts 1: 2 -
"Until the day on which, giving commandments"
Here Luke means the power given them to preach, to baptize, to remit sins, and generally the whole commission and charge of government of the Church after Him and in His name, and the proper regiment which was given them together with the Holy Ghost to inspire them and enable them to spread the Faith.
Acts 1: 3-6 -
"by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom He had chosen, He was taken up. To whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And eating together with them, He commanded them, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard (saith He) by my mouth. For John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence. They therefore who were come together, asked Him, saying: 'Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?'"
Another wise Doctor of the Church St. John Chrysostom, in his Homily on this passage, says:
"It seems to me that they had not any clear notion of the nature of the Kingdom, for the Spirit had not yet instructed them. Notice that they do not ask when it shall come but 'Will You at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?’ as if the Kingdom were something that lay in the past. This question shows that they were still attracted by earthly things, though less than they had been."
Acts 1: 7 -
"But He said to them: 'It is not for you'..."
It is not for us, nor needful for the Church, to know the times and moment of the world, the coming of Antichrist, and such other of God's secrets. This is enough in that case, to be assured that Christ’s faith shall be preached, and the Church spread throughout all Nations, the Holy Ghost concurring continually with the Apostles and their Successors for the same.
Acts 1: 7 continued -
"...to know the time or moments, which the Father hath put in His Own power: But you shall receive the power ..."
In the book, A Tour of the Summa, after speaking about the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven, it goes on to speak of what He will do after the Ascension in regards to His “Power” as Judge and I thought it apt to put that section in this part of the meditation being as after He Ascends we should like to know what He will then do.
OUR LORD'S POWER AS JUDGE
1. Christ, by testimony of scripture (Acts 10:42) is appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. Now, a judge must have, in addition to jurisdiction, a zeal for justice; he must be wise; he must know truth. The Son of God is wisdom itself eternally begotten; he is Lord and lover of justice; hence he has perfect qualifications for the function of a judge. St. Augustine in De Vera Relig. XXXI says: "The Father judges no man, but has given all judgment to the son." Of course, speaking simply, the judicial power is in the Trinity. For reasons here indicated, it is appropriated to the Son.
2. Even as man, our Lord has power and right to judge. Scripture says in John 5:27 that the Father "hath given Him power to do judgment because He is the Son of man."
3. The judicial or judiciary power belongs to Christ as man because of His divine personality, the dignity of His headship, and the fullness of His habitual grace. This power also belongs to our Lord by reason of His merit. For He Who fought for God's justice, and won through to victory, though unjustly condemned, should, by divine justice, now be the Judge.
4. Since, as scripture says in John 5:22, "the Father hath given all judgment to the Son," it is evident that our Lord is judge with reference to all human affairs.
5. A judgment takes place when a man dies. Scripture says in Hebrews 9:27, "It is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment." There will be another and general judgment when all human lives (and the effects of these lives that continue after the lives themselves are ended) will be perfectly and publicly judged. This judgment will take place on the last day. And Christ our Lord and God will be the Judge.
6. Our Lord will also be Judge of the angels. Christ has the authority to judge the angels; indeed, He delegates the authority to the apostles, and St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6: 3 that the apostles will exercise the delegated authority. In the beginning, Christ as the Word of God judged and sentenced the rebel angels. But there are accidental rewards and punishments to be meted to good and to bad angels; for these the judicial power is vested in our Lord as God Incarnate. Now let us return to Acts.
The old Rheims version has “Assumpted” whereas the current Douay-Rheims translation has “taken up”. Either Assumpted from you or taken up from you it is by this visible Ascending of Christ to Heaven and like return from thence to judgement, the heretics do incredulously argue Christ not to be in the Sacrament. But let the faithful listen to St. John Chrystostom who said in Li. 3, de Sacred. Homily 2 adp. Ant. in fine. Ho. de diuit: "O miracle, He that sitteth with Father in Heaven above, at the very same time is handled of men beneath. Christ ascending to Heaven, both have flesh with Him, and left it with us beneath. Elias being taken up, left to his disciple his cloak only: but the Son of man ascending left His Own flesh to us."
Acts 1: 11 - "shall so come as you have seen Him going into Heaven."
Again St. John Chrysostom in his Homily on this passage says:
"They said to them, What are you doing here, looking into Heaven? These words are full of solicitude, but they do not proclaim the second coming of the Savior as imminent. The angels simply assert what is most important, that is, that Jesus Christ will come again and the confidence with which we should await His return" (Saint John Chrysostom, Hom. on Acts, 2).
In the Saint Pius V Catechism, I, 7,9 we read:
"What we have already taught of the mystery of His death and resurrection the faithful should deem not less true of His ascension. For although we owe our redemption and salvation to the passion of Christ, Whose merits opened Heaven to the just, yet His ascension is not only proposed to us as a model, which teaches us to look on high and ascend in spirit into Heaven, but it also imparts to us a divine virtue which enables us to accomplish what it teaches."
- Acts 1: 12
"Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day's journey."
Pope Saint Leo the Great weighed in on this passage when he points out,
"Today we are not only made possessors of paradise but we have ascended with Christ, mystically but really, into the highest Heaven, and through Christ we have obtained a more ineffable grace than that which we lost through the devil’s envy/"
The St. Pius V Catechism adds this, referenced from the Summa Theologica III, q. 57, a. 6:
"First of all, He ascended because the glorious kingdom of the highest heavens, not the obscure abode of this earth, presented a suitable dwelling place for Him Whose body, rising form the tomb, was clothed with the glory of immortality. He ascended, however, not only to possess the throne of glory and the kingdom which He had merited by His blood, but also to attend to whatever regards our salvation. Again, He ascended to prove thereby that His kingdom is not of this world.
It is important to note that our Lord took His Sacred Wounds with Him into Heaven. as we see in
Apocalypse 5:6: "And I saw: and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the ancients, a Lamb standing, as it were slain, having seven horns and seven eyes: which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth."
Why did He ascend with His wounds into Heaven? He did this as a perpetual reminder to the Father on our behalf. These are the wounds that He redeemed the world with.
I like to save the best for last in this meditation so I will let Saint Thomas Aquinas from A Tour of the Summa and the Catechism of Trent summarize.
1. Our Lord as man arose from the dead to an everlasting life. As soon thereafter as His divine wisdom chose, He ascended from the perishable earth to the deathless glory of Heaven.
2. Christ as man ascended, by the divine power, into Heaven. As God, He is everywhere, and there is no place to which He can or need ascend. Hence, Christ as man ascended into Heaven, and not as God, even though Christ is God.
3. Our Lord ascended into Heaven, primarily by the divine power, which is His Own as God; secondarily, by the power of the glorified soul which moves the glorified body at will.
4. "He ascended above all the heavens" (Ephesians 4:10). The glorified body of our Risen Lord shines with greater glory than any other body. In place of dignity, it ranks highest.
5. Our Lord as Man ascended into Heaven to take His place, not only above all bodies, but above all spiritual creatures as well. "God set Him above all Principality, and Power, and Virtue, and Dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come" (Ephesians 1:21).
6. Our Lord prepared the way for us to ascend to Heaven. And His Ascension awakens in us faith, hope, charity, and reverence. Hence we can say that His Ascension is a cause of our salvation.
The pastor is also to teach that He ascended by His own power, not be taken up by the power of another, as was Elias, who was carried to Heaven in a fiery chariot (4 Kings 2: 2) or, as the Prophet Habacuc, (Daniel 14: 35) or Philip, the deacon, (Acts 8: 39) who were borne through the air by the divine power, and traversed great distances.
Neither did He ascend into Heaven solely by the exercise of His supreme power as God, but also by virtue of the power which He possessed as man. Although human power alone was insufficient to accomplish this, yet the virtue with which the blessed soul of Christ was endowed was capable of moving the body as it pleased, and His body, now glorified, readily obeyed the behest of the soul that moved it. Hence, we believe that Christ ascended into heaven as God and man by His own power. (Catechism of Trent)