Heavenly Round-Table Discourse on the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Setting: The setting unfolds in the celestial realm, where a gathering of saints and scholars convenes around a circular table, immersed in an inspiring discourse born from their theological reflections before the throne of Christ on the Solemnity of the Ascension. Among the participants in this heavenly dialogue are King David, Pope St. Leo the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ephrem, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Athanasius, St. Luke, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

King David: Brethren, on this solemn occasion of the Ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, let us unite our hearts and minds in contemplation of this great mystery. As we reflect, let us allow our thoughts to guide the Pilgrim Church into a deeper understanding of this divine event. Let a Pope commence this dialogue…

(Pope Leo steps in…)

Pope Leo the Great: Thank you, the greatest Psalmist of all time and King of Israel, who foretold the mystery of the Ascension prophetically in the pages of the Psalms.

At Easter, beloved brethren, it was the Lord’s resurrection which was the cause of our joy; our present rejoicing is on account of his ascension into heaven. With all due solemnity, we are commemorating that day on which our poor human nature was carried up, in Christ, above all the hosts of heaven, above all the ranks of angels, beyond the highest heavenly powers, to the very throne of God the Father.

St. John Chrysostom: True, Great Patriarch of the West! On this solemnity, I invite my brothers to picture this reality with me. Christ, our Saviour, ascending on high, surrounded by angelic hosts. It must have been a sight to behold! I must say that the angels have received what they had long yearned for; today, the archangels have seen what they long desired: our nature gleaming from the royal throne, resplendent in immortal glory and beauty. Our hearts are lifted up to heaven, where he is, seated at the right hand of the Father; as the Apostle right says: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

St. Ephrem: Awesome thoughts, brethren! The Archbishop of Constantinople with the “golden mouth” is at it again, picturing an amazing transition from earth to heaven! Do we now see to what height of glory human nature has been raised? Is it not from earth to heaven? Is it not from corruption to incorruption? This act can only be made divinely possible by God!

Pope Leo the Great: Indeed, brethren! I agree with our prolific theologian, hymnographer, and poet, deacon Ephrem. It is upon this ordered structure of divine acts that we have been firmly established, so that the grace of God may show itself still more marvellous when, in spite of the withdrawal from men’s sight of everything that is rightly felt to command their reverence, faith does not fail, hope is not shaken, and charity does not grow cold. Since it was probably Saint Gregory of Nyssa who influenced the propagation of the feast, although little is known of him, let us hear what he has to say.

St. Gregory of Nyssa: Ah, what an honour it is, brethren, to participate in this awesome dialogue! I appreciate David, the King of Israel and great Psalmist for introducing this dialogue and for his insightful and prophetic allusions to the mystery. The same Prophet David captures its essence beautifully, doesn’t he? He makes today’s solemnity, which is great enough in itself, all the greater when he adds to it words of rejoicing taken from the Psalms. For this great prophet, rising above himself, as if he were not at all weighed down by the body, brings himself into the midst of the heavenly powers, and tells us what they said when they accompanied the Lord as He returned to heaven, and commanded those Angels who dwell on earth, even they to whom His entrance into human life was entrusted, with these words: “Lift up your gates, o ye princes, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in!”

St. Athanasius: Amazing, dear Brother! Complementing your thoughts, we have seen that the Psalmist foretells the Lord’s bodily ascension into heaven, saying in Psalm 24 (23), “Lift up your gates, you princes and be lifted up, you everlasting doors, and the king of glory shall come in.” In 132:8, the Psalm reveals to us: “Go up, Lord, to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your strength.” And in the forty-sixth, “God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with a sound of a trumpet.” It announces the session at God’s right hand, and says in Psalm 109, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”

St. John Chrysostom: Truly remarkable! You have highlighted many rich biblical passages here, Brother Athanasius. Speaking on the first you highlighted, the celestial gates open wide to welcome our conquering King. And as the Lord ascends, the heavens resound with shouts of joy, with the blast of trumpets heralding His triumphant return, just as the Psalmist, King David prophetically puts it. And just as Christ ascended with shouts of joy and the sound of a trumpet, in the same manner, we also, at the sound of the archangel’s trumpet, will shake off the cloud of death like sleep, and be joined to the author of life.

St. Gregory of Nyssa: Amazing, brother! Tell us more…

St. John Chrysostom: Now, Elijah was taken up to heaven because he was a servant, but Jesus ascended into heaven because he was the Master. Hence, the former went up in a chariot of fire, the latter on a cloud. For when the servant had to be summoned, he was sent a chariot. But when it was the Son, it was a royal throne and not just any royal throne, but that of the Father himself. For indeed, Isaiah says of the Father: Behold, the Lord sits upon a swift cloud (Is 19:1). And since the Father is enthroned upon a cloud, he sent the cloud to the Son also. Moreover, whereas Elijah left his sheepskin to Elisha when he ascended. When Jesus ascended, he left gifts of grace to the disciples, not making one prophet only, but thousands of Elishas, or rather, making prophets far greater and more radiant than him, who will be joined to Him when He returns at the end of time.

(A heavenly round of applause for Christ broke in… After this, St. Luke stepped in)

St. Luke: Allow me to interject briefly with the account of the ascension. As the disciples watched in awe, Jesus was taken up before their very eyes, a cloud receiving Him out of their sight. And as they stood gazing up into heaven, two men in white apparel stood by them, saying, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Over to you, Pope Leo, the great.

Pope Leo the Great: Even the blessed apostles, though they had been strengthened by so many miracles and instructed by so much teaching, took fright at the cruel suffering of the Lord’s passion and could not accept his resurrection without hesitation. Yet they made such progress through his ascension that they now found joy in what had terrified them before. They were able to fix their minds on Christ’s divinity as he sat at the right hand of his Father since what was presented to their bodily eyes no longer hindered them from turning all their attention to the realisation that he had not left his Father when he came down to earth, nor had he abandoned his disciples when he ascended into heaven.

St. Gregory of Nyssa: And if He ascends up into Heaven, let us all ascend with Him. Be one of those angels who escort Him or one of those who receive Him. Bid the gates be lifted up, or be made higher, that they may receive Him, exalted after His Passion. Answer to those who are in doubt because He bears up with Him His body and the tokens of His Passion, which He had not when He came down.

St. Augustine: Beautifully put, and I agree with you, let our hearts ascend with him. 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.

St. Athanasius: Wow, dear brethren! This dialogue is so illumined by the Holy Spirit. Thanks, Brother Augustine, for complementing the thoughts of Brother Gregory. And since Brother Gregory said: “In His ascension, He bears up with Him His body and the tokens of His Passion, which He had not when He came down…” I dare to say that the Ascension truly completes the mystery of the Incarnation. As I once wrote, “It was our sorry case that caused the Word to come down. Death had dominion over us because of sin, and it was only through the incarnation of the Word that God could put an end to death and corruption. The Word, who is immortal and who is also the Father’s Son, is incapable of dying. For this reason, He assumed a body capable of death, to put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection.” And now, in His ascension, our broken humanity is exalted to the very throne of God.

Pope Leo the Great: Well said, bishop Athanasius of Alexander, a prominent theologian and a great defender of orthodox Christian doctrine! I love the fact that you said: “Ascension truly completes the mystery of the Incarnation.” While His glory was hidden during his public ministry and revealed in an instance at his Transfiguration, the truth remains that the Son of Man was revealed as Son of God in a more perfect and transcendent way once he had entered into his Father’s glory; he now began to be indescribably more present in his divinity to those from whom he was further removed in his humanity. And so our Redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments. Our faith is nobler and stronger because sight has been replaced by a doctrine whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high.

St. Augustine: You’ve made a stellar point, Papa Leo! This brings us to the comforting truth that, though Christ has ascended into heaven, He is not far from us. As Pope St. Gregory the Great wrote, “His intercession consists in this, that He perpetually exhibits himself before the eternal Father in the humanity which He had assumed for our salvation.”

St. Athanasius: Speak on, Augustine! Let the people understand better.

St. Augustine: For Christ did not leave heaven when he came down to us, nor did he withdraw from us when he ascended into heaven. In his ascension, he brought our human nature to the very throne of God the Father! 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.

St. Athanasius: We are with you… Ride on!

St. Augustine: We can understand this mystery 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 the sons 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.

St. Ephrem: Great theological insights here, Brother Augustine. In consonance with your thoughts, we can understand that although we were alienated and hostile in our intent by evil deeds, have not only been reconciled to God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have also soared aloft to sonship, and now our nature is worshipped in the heavens by every creature seen and unseen.

St. Augustine:  And inasmuch as 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.

St. Ephrem: Deep! This should spur us into doing more deeds of love to our fellowmen and not hurt them, for whatever we do to the least of anyone, we do unto Christ, which strengthens our union with Him.

St. Augustine: Beautiful! Through our union with Christ, we too are raised up and seated with him in heavenly places. This brings to consciousness that Christ’s Ascension is not only a historical event but a present reality.

St. Thomas Aquinas: You have spoken well, brother Augustine! As I have argued in my Summa Theologica, it is through his departure from earth that he prepares the way for our ascent into heaven.

St. Ephrem: Great point from the Angelic Doctor! Tell us more…

St. Thomas Aquinas: As St. Paul reminds us, Christ’s ascension is part of His divine plan for our salvation. He ascended on high, leading captivity captive, and granting gifts to men (Eph. 4:8).

St. Augustine: Yes, indeed, St. Paul’s words in Ephesians reflect deeply on the mystery of the Ascension. Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father, not only reigns in glory but continues to intercede for us, his beloved children. For his intercession consists in this, that He perpetually exhibits himself before the eternal Father in the humanity which He had assumed for our salvation: and as long as He continues to offer Himself, He opens the way for our redemption into eternal life.”

St. Thomas Aquinas: Amazing! In other words, Augustine, our Lord opens the way for humanity to enter into eternal communion with the Father, through His Ascension. This is why our Lord’s assertion: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places,” his promise to prepare a place for his disciples and his declaration of being the exclusive way to the Father emphasize the importance of his departure and subsequent return in glory.

St. John Chrysostom: So then, arise, beloved Pilgrim Church on earth, and look forward to his return in glory. For Paul also says, The Lord himself will descend from heaven at the given signal, at the voice of an archangel; and we, the living who have been left, will be seized up on clouds to meet the Lord in the air, but not all (1 Thess 4:16-17). In order to understand that not all of us will be seized up, but that some will remain, while others will be seized up, listen to what Christ says: At that time, there will be two women grinding in the mill, one will be taken and one left (Mt 24:41), and, There will be two men in bed, one will be taken and one will be left. (Lk 17:34-35). Therefore, the Ascension is not merely a conclusion but a commencement—a glorious beginning of our journey to eternal life.

St. Augustine: Yes, indeed! And as we ponder these profound mysteries, let us join our voices with all creation in rendering praise, adoration, and glory to Christ, the Theo-anthropos (God-man), who has ascended into heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father, just as the Pilgrim Church on earth do today!

(They all prostrated before the throne of Christ in profound adoration, saying):

All: All Glory, honour, adoration, praise, power, and Thanksgiving to Christ, the Theo-anthropos, who has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God!

Final Considerations: Dear friends in Christ, the Ascension of Jesus Christ marks not just the conclusion but the glorious inception of humanity’s salvation narrative. As Jesus departed from earthly realms, His presence among humanity took on a new dimension. Through the mystery of the Ascension, Jesus provided His Church with a profound indication that He remains intimately close, affirming the sanctity of the human body as a dwelling place for God. Pope St. Gregory the Great articulated the significance of Our Lord’s bodily Ascension, highlighting how Christ’s ongoing intercession perpetually presents His humanity before the eternal Father, thereby paving the way for our redemption unto eternal life. ~ (Fada CJay, OSJ)

Let us pray: We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty, for the deep insights gained from reflecting on Christ’s Ascension. Inspired by the words of saints and scholars, we embrace the truth of Christ’s ongoing intercession for us before the Father. With faith, hope, and love, may we live as witnesses to Christ’s exaltation and eagerly anticipate his return in glory. Grant this, through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

N.B: The personalities and interactions were beautifully juxtaposed for an informative dialogue and better comprehension of the mystery and doctrine of the Ascension of the Lord.

____________________________________

Shalom!
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ (Fada Cjay)
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil
nozickcjoe@gmail.com / fadacjay@gmail.com

__________________________
Have you prayed your rosary today?

NEVER MISS AN UPDATE AGAIN.

Subscribe to latest posts via email.


Chinaka Justin Mbaeri

A staunch Roman Catholic and an Apologist of the Christian faith. More about him here.

View all posts
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michael Umande
Michael Umande
14 days ago

Beautiful work father! To bring together great scholars, Pope, Bishops and Doctors of the church in this dialogue, it is truly phenomenal!
My take home lesson from this dialogue on the ascension of Christ is that by ascending into heaven in bodily form, Christ raised the dignity of our human nature that we who were born sons of men but in union with Christ, we become sons of God.
Thank you and God bless you Padre

Fada CJay
Fada CJay
13 days ago
Reply to  Michael Umande

Awesome feedback… Well done bro! It gladdens my heart when my writings are comprehended. Thanks for contributing!

Uba Susanna Chiebone
Uba Susanna Chiebone
13 days ago

This is fantastically narrative. It gave me a deep insight and knowledge . I recommend that every Catholic should read it and equipped himself with the facts and knowledge of Christianity My big thanks to Fr. C.JAY for this. May our good Lord bless and strengthen you. Amen

Fada CJay
Fada CJay
13 days ago

Amen… Many blessings to you too

Sa'adatu Anne Akough
Sa'adatu Anne Akough
13 days ago

How beautiful out Lord Almighty is your dwelling place. May we who hope in You live a life worthy of thy kingdom. Amen

Ngosoo Perpetua Chia
Ngosoo Perpetua Chia
13 days ago

Thank you for taking time to teach us , enrich our prayers lives. May God bless you richly.

6
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x

Discover more from Fr. Chinaka's Media

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading