"So then the Lord
Jesus, after he had spoken unto them,
was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God."
Solemnity of the
Ascension of the Lord
Sunday, May 28th, 2017
The Ascension of
Jesus (anglicized from the Vulgate Latin Acts 1:9-11 section title:
Ascensio Iesu) is the Christian teaching found in the New Testament
that the resurrected Jesus was taken up to Heaven in his resurrected
body, in the presence of eleven of his apostles, occurring 40 days
after the resurrection. In the biblical narrative, an angel tells
the watching disciples that Jesus' second coming will take place in
the same manner as his ascension.
The canonical gospels include two brief descriptions of the
ascension of Jesus in Luke 24:50-53 and Mark 16:19. A more detailed
account of Jesus' bodily Ascension into the clouds is then given in
the Acts of the Apostles (1:9-11).
The ascension of Jesus is professed in the Nicene Creed and in the
Apostles' Creed. The ascension implies Jesus' humanity being taken
into Heaven. The Feast of the Ascension, celebrated on the 40th day
of Easter (always a Thursday), is one of the chief feasts of the
Christian year. However, some Roman Catholic provinces have moved
the observance to the following Sunday. The feast dates back at
least to the later 4th century, as is widely attested. The ascension
is one of the five major milestones in the gospel narrative of the
life of Jesus, the others being baptism, transfiguration,
crucifixion, and resurrection.
By the 6th century the iconography of the ascension in Christian art
had been established and by the 9th century ascension scenes were
being depicted on domes of churches. Many ascension scenes have two
parts, an upper (Heavenly) part and a lower (earthly) part. The
ascending Jesus is often shown blessing with his right hand -
directed towards the earthly group below him and signifying that he
is blessing the entire Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
"Christ's Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in
his humanity, in God's power and authority."
Referring to Mark 16:19 ("So then the Lord Jesus, after he had
spoken unto them, was received up into heaven, and sat down at the
right hand of God.") Pope John Paul II stated that Scripture
positions the significance of the Ascension in two statements:
"Jesus gave instructions, and then Jesus took his place.
John Paul II also separately emphasized that Jesus had foretold of
his Ascension several times in the Gospels, e.g. John 16:10 at the
Last Supper: "I go to the Father, and you will see me no more" and
John 20:17 after his resurrection he tells Mary Magdalene: "I have
not yet ascended to the Father; go to my brethren and say to them, I
am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God"
Acts 1:9-12 states that the Ascension took place on Mount Olivet
(the "Mount of Olives", on which the village of Bethany sits). After
the Ascension the apostles are described as returning to Jerusalem
from the mount that is called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem,
within a Sabbath day's journey. Tradition has consecrated this site
as the Mount of Ascension. The Gospel of Luke states that the event
took place 'in the vicinity of Bethany' and the Gospel of Mark
specifies no location.
Before the conversion of Constantine in 312 AD, early Christians
honored the Ascension of Christ in a cave on the Mount of Olives. By
384, the place of the Ascension was venerated on the present open
site, uphill from the cave.
The Chapel of the Ascension in Jerusalem today is a Christian and
Muslim holy site now believed to mark the place where Jesus ascended
into heaven. In the small round church/mosque is a stone imprinted
with what some claim to be the very footprints of Jesus.
Around the year 390 a wealthy Roman woman named Poimenia financed
construction of the original church called "Eleona Basilica" (elaion
in Greek means "olive garden", from elaia "olive tree," and has an
oft-mentioned similarity to eleos meaning "mercy"). This church was
destroyed by Sassanid Persians in 614. It was subsequently rebuilt,
destroyed, and rebuilt again by the Crusaders. This final church was
later also destroyed by Muslims, leaving only a 12x12 meter
octagonal structure (called a martyrium—"memorial"—or "Edicule")
that remains to this day. The site was ultimately acquired by two
emissaries of Saladin in the year 1198 and has remained in the
possession of the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem ever since. The Russian
Orthodox Church also maintains a Convent of the Ascension on the top
of the Mount of Olives.
For Information, please contact the
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