Thursday, May 13, 2010

The denial of the Ascension is as grave a departure from Christian teaching as is denial of Christ's Resurrection....

An insert in the parish bulletin of Saint Patrick's Parish in Jaffrey explains nicely that, "The Ascension of Our Lord, which occurred 40 days after Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Easter Sunday, is the final act of our redemption that Christ began on Good Friday. On this day, the risen Christ, in the sight of His Apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven (Luke 24: 51; Mark 16: 19; Acts 1: 9-11).

The reality of the Ascension is so important that the creeds (the basic statements of belief) of Christianity all affirm, in the words of the Apostles' Creed, that "He ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead." The denial of the Ascension is as grave a departure from Christian teaching as is denial of Christ's Resurrection.

Christ's bodily Ascension foreshadows our own entrance into Heaven not simply as souls, after our death, but as glorified bodies, after the resurrection of the dead at the Final Judgment. In redeeming mankind, Christ not only offered salvation to our souls but began the restoration of the material world itself to the glory that God intended before Adam's fall."

And so, Christ's Ascension fills us with hope. Even in the midst of a fallen, broken world filled with errors, vice and scandals. We have hope because "'Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.' Christ's Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God's power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is 'far above all rule and authority and power and dominion,' for the Father 'has put all things under his feet.' Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are 'set forth' and transcendently fulfilled." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 668, citing Romans 14:9; Ephesians 1: 20-22; Ephesians 1:10).

The Lord Jesus has Ascended into Heaven. He is Truth. And as Pope John Paul II reminded us, "The truth of Jesus is capable of reinforcing all your energies...You may still be vulnerable to attack from the pressures of the world, from the forces of evil, from the power of the devil. But you will be invincible in hope: 'in Christ Jesus our hope'(1 Timothy 1: 11)."

Many have lost hope because of the sex abuse scandals. Many have become fearful because so many have been anxious to rise up against the Church and to unjustly condemn the Mystical Body of Christ. But our hope is in the Risen Lord and in His power and authority. What shall we say to those who, like Father James Scahill, have lost this invincible hope in Jesus Christ and His Mystical Body the Church? We will reiterate the teaching of the Church as outlined in Vatican II's Gaudium et Spes: "Examining his heart, man finds that he has inclinations toward evil, too, and is engulfed by manifold ills which cannot come from his good Creator. Often refusing to acknowledge God as his beginning, man has disrupted also his proper relationship to his own ultimate goal as well as his whole relationship toward himself and others and all created things. Therefore, man is split within himself. As a result all of human life, whether individual or collective, shows itself to be a dramatic struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness. Indeed, man finds that by himself he is incapable of battling the assaults of evil successfully, so that everyone feels as though he is bound by chains. But the Lord himself came to free and strengthen man, renewing him inwardly and casting out that 'prince of this world' (Jn 12:31) who held him in the bondage of sin (cf. Jn 8:34)." (Gaudium et Spes, No. 13).

Jesus has assured us that the gates of Hell will never prevail against His Church. And God is truthful. It is by faith that we accept what God has told us as absolutely true. Jesus Himself tells us that, "The one who sent me is truthful, and what I have learnt from him I declare to the world." (John 8: 26). And St. Paul writes to Titus that God "does not lie" (Titus 1: 2) and that indeed "it is impossible for God to lie." (Hebrews 6: 18). Therefore, since God is absolute truth or Truth itself, He cannot lie or deceive.

1 comment:

Ellen Wironken said...

Father Scahill has lost hope in Jesus. Which is why he cannot believe in Jesus' promise that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church.

He calls the Church evil because he has lost faith in Jesus and His eternal promise as well as His power and authority.

What does Father propose in place of trust and hope in the Eternal Word? Himself. He is the "great reformer," the savior come to reform an "insidiously evil" Church.

Much like Jim Jones abandoned his early faith in Christ and began to worship.....himself!

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