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Ascending, He Comes

From a homily on the Ascension by Hans Urs von Balthasar:

The Lord Jesus Christ shares in Gods mode of presence; but he is not only God, he is also man for all eternity, with a human body and a human soul. Now this humanity explicitly participates in the new mode of Christ s presence and indwelling. And this is the really astonishing and baffling thing: that this finite soul and this limited body can share in the limitless omnipresence and intimacy of God. His wisdom and love have brought this miracle about: it is called Eucharist. It is not only a spiritual being-together in which the parties think of one another, nor is it simply the kind of presence whereby man is in God. It is an indwelling of the divine-human being of Christ, soul and body, in the whole person, body in body and soul in soul. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.

Mans eucharistic indwelling and permeation by the Lord or, to put it the other way round, mans incorporation into the Eucharistic Lord is, for the Lord, a concrete aspect of his own Resurrection and Ascension: one of his earthly members, for whom he went to his death, has now entered into him and (as the Apostle says in Ephesians 2:6) has been made to sit with him in the heavenly places.What we have here is a mutual indwelling that does not cause the persons to become confused: Christ remains the Lord and the Head; the believer remains the servant, the friend, the member. Indeed, he or she experiences the same paradox that is always there when God draws near: the nearer God comes, the more profoundly we grasp how totally other Gods divine nature is, the more we realize Gods nearness is pure grace, always beyond our comprehension.The more graciously God bends down to our level and enters into us, the higher Gods mystery ascends above us.

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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5-17-12 Reading wikipedia (Commonweal catering to progressive Catholics) and my own acquaintance with Commonweal for many decades, I am amazed at its current status. Regarding Ascending, He Comes, --- I reviewed von Balthasar, still in my memory from a long past youth. I looked up Imbelli. Wasnt Commonweal a lay journal in its original intent? May I respectfully suggest that you read Pope Pius XII encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu (online), Thomas Sheehans Revolution in the Church (online), And Robert Funks and The Jesus Seminars The Acts of Jesus if you have not read them. These should help to rethink the doctrine of the Ascension. This clue leads to other clues.In my opinion the only way that the RC Church is going to evolve as it should is to keep current with the best thinking and its implications. From day one this institution has evolved and it just keeps on evolving because we are on an evolutionary journey.

I have always believe that the operative part of the Ascension account in Acts is the words of the angels ("men dressed in white"):"They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galilee, they said, why do you stand here looking into the sky?"Is this an invitation to stop looking for "deus ex machina" solutions for our immediate issues and problems? Really, "Stop expecting leaders to do all your work of being an apostle for you."These words seem very much in line with the words of the two men ("in clothes that gleamed like lightening" - sounds like angels to me!) who are at Jesus' tomb when the women intent on completing Jesus' burial rituals were concerned who would roll back the large sealing stone at the entrance of the tomb [Lk 24:4-5 - BTW many exegetes believe that the author of Luke's gospel is also the author of Acts; the appearances of these "men in white" seem to be a recurring narrative motif for the Lucan evangelist]:"While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?""Do these passages suggest that Christians frequently get confused about the implications of the resurrection and requirements of being an apostle of the Good News???

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