Editorial Comments -
We are pleased to introduce Richard Maffeo in a new column: We Believe. Richard is a convert to Catholicism from evangelical Protestant faith. He wrote forty meditations based on the Nicene Creed to stir a passion within the hearts of his fellow Catholics - a passion "for the faith that was once for all handed down to the holy ones" (Jude 1:3). His meditations are compiled in his book, "We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed." The book is available through bookstores and his website.
He Ascended into HeavenCreed Statement: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the FatherWhile meeting with them, He enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem…. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." When He had said this, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight.
From We Believe - A reflection series on the Nicene Creed
By Rich Maffeo
Terror smothered the disciples' joy like a thick, wet blanket when the soldiers captured Jesus in the Garden. They fled before they, too, could be let away with their Lord. Peter following at a safe distance, denied three times that he knew his best friend.
None of the disciples knew it at that time, but their emotional roller coaster was just beginning. When Pilate crucified the Lord, their hopes died - only to rekindle three days later to Mary Magdalene's, "He's risen! He's alive!" Their hope collapsed again when they found the tomb empty.
When the Lord appeared in the upper room, hope soared once more - and then plummeted forty days later as they watched Him leave.
Do you know about emotional rides? As I've said before in these meditations, I know how it feels to scan heaven in vain for answers to prayer. I know what It's like, even in the midst of what should be a glorious celebration of the Mass, to fixate on my family losses, broken relationships, or financial reversals.
I'd do much better to focus instead on the miraculous event taking place before my eyes as bread and wine transform into His body and blood. I should drop to my knees in awe and in reverence as He appears before me. I should fix my eyes on Jesus, "the author and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2 NASB).
What must it have been like for the disciples to fix their eyes on Christ as He ascended, to see earth lose its hold on Him? What were they thinking? If I'd been there, I'd have wondered how I could go on.
When we recite, "He ascended into heaven," God gives us opportunity - especially during times of loneliness and sorrow - to go on. He beckons us to look with eyes of faith to the heavens, from where our help comes. The Holy Spirit trades our emotional derailment for His encouragement, our loss for His sufficiency, our defeat for His victory.
That's a critically important point, and we should take care not to miss it. Sorrow, overwhelming as they may be, last only for a time, but the shout of victory is ours come morning (Psalm 30:5). Just as earth's gravity could no more hold Christ than death could, sorrows hold us only to the extent we give them permission.
He is risen. He is ascended. He is sitting - now, at this moment - at the Father's right hand. Unless and until we look beyond the bottom of our ride, we won't recognize the personal significance of Christ's ascension to the Father. We'll settle for emotional derailment and defeat instead of the victory we have in the risen and ascended Savior.
"Lift up your heads, O gate and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in!" (Psalm 24:7 NASB).Prayer: Hallelujah to the crucified One. Glory to the risen One. Adoration to the ascended One. Who is like You, Oh, Lord" Perfect in majesty, ever in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit and ever present at our right hand. Amen.
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These meditations are compiled in the book, "We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed." The book is available through bookstores and this website.