Posts Tagged ‘glorified body’

I regret the ‘Sundayising’ of the Ascension. I understand that the rationale is to make it possible for more people to assist at Mass. But I think it diminishes the significance of the feast day. And the Ascension is arguably one of the most important feast days in the Church calendar.

The Ascension is the bookend pair to the Incarnation – the pair of events that make sense out of the whole Jesus narrative. God became human, and then – as a human – rose into heaven. We humans, designed to link the spiritual and the physical realms, finally fulfilled our purpose. As we – as the Body of Christ – died on the Cross and rose again, so we – as the Body of Christ – ascended to heaven with Jesus our Head. The Catechism says:

Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys. But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity. Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand…

The veiled character of the glory of the Risen One during this time is intimated in his mysterious words to Mary Magdalene: “I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” This indicates a difference in manifestation between the glory of the risen Christ and that of the Christ exalted to the Father’s right hand, a transition marked by the historical and transcendent event of the Ascension.

This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who “came from the Father” can return to the Father: Christ Jesus. “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.” Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house”, to God’s life and happiness. Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, “entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he “always lives to make intercession” for “those who draw near to God through him”. As “high priest of the good things to come” he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven.

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Pat Gohn has written on Patheos about Jesus after Easter Sunday:

No, this was not a back-from-the-dead return to the old life; this is was an entirely new life form. Recognizable to those who knew him, Jesus was transformed, possessing a distinctive change and a “definite otherness,” writes Pope Benedict in his second installment of the Jesus of Nazareth book series.

Jesus’ Resurrection was about breaking out into an entirely new form of life, in to a life that is no longer subject to the law of dying and becoming, but lies beyond it—a life that opens up a new dimension of human existence. Therefore the Resurrection of Jesus in not an isolated event that we could set aside as something limited to the past, but it constitutes an “evolutionary leap” (to draw an analogy, albeit one that is easily misunderstood). In Jesus’ Resurrection a new possibility of human existence is attained that affects everyone and opens up a future, and new kind of future, for mankind (244).

This resurrection is a new and unprecedented dimension for humanity. It represents a kind of reconfiguration or a transformation of the body into a glorified body beyond the boundaries of what we normally conceive. In his book, the pope poses the following rational meditation for those needing a more cogent or analytic assessment of this new dimension of life.

What already exists is not called into question. Rather we are told that there is a further dimension, beyond what was previously known. Does that really contradict science? Can there really only ever be what there has always been? Can there not be something unexpected, something unimaginable, something new? If there really is a God, is he not able to create a new dimension of human existence, a new dimension of reality altogether? Is not creation actually waiting for this last and highest “evolutionary leap,” for the union of the finite with the infinite, for the union of man and God, for the conquest of death? (247)

When we talk about the glorified body, and the reunion of the soul with the body, we’re talking about this new model of body – something unexpected; something unimaginable; something new.

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