Ascension of jesus - by El Greco


The homily extract offered here was delivered by Benedict XVI in Cassino, under the hill on which stands the famous abbey of Montecassino, where he had gone on a visit. This is the reason for the extensive references to Saint Benedict, the founder of this monastery.

It was the feast of the Ascension, which properly falls forty days after Easter, on a Thursday, but in Italy and in many dioceses of the United States and other countries is celebrated the following Sunday.

May 24, 2009

Acts 1:1-11
Ephesians 4:1-13
Mark 16:15-20

… In the passage from the Acts of the Apostles it is said first that Jesus was “lifted up” and then it says “taken up”. The event is not described as a journey to on high but rather as an action of the power of God who introduces Jesus into the space of closeness to the Divine.


The presence of the cloud that “took him out of their sight”, recalls a very ancient image of Old Testament theology and integrates the account of the Ascension into the history of God with Israel, from the cloud of Sinai and above the tent of the Covenant in the desert, to the luminous cloud on the mountain of the Transfiguration.


To present the Lord wrapped in clouds calls to mind once and for all the same mystery expressed in the symbolism of the phrase, “seated at the right hand of God”. In Christ ascended into Heaven, the human being has entered into intimacy with God in a new and unheard-of way; man henceforth finds room in God for ever.


“Heaven”: this word Heaven does not indicate a place above the stars but something far more daring and sublime: it indicates Christ himself, the divine Person who welcomes humanity fully and for ever, the One in whom God and man are inseparably united for ever. Man’s being in God, this is Heaven. And we draw close to Heaven, indeed, we enter Heaven to the extent that we draw close to Jesus and enter into communion with him…   [emphasis in boldface type by Abyssum]

– Benedict XVI

[hat tip to Sandro Magister]

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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