Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 665-667 – The Ascension, Christ as Mediator

clock December 28, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections are just three paragraphs, since we are a few paragraphs ahead of the pace for completing the entire Catechism in a year. Enjoy the light day of reading and focus on the joy of Christmas. Supporting material comes from Pope Pius XII’s encyclical, “Mediator Dei”

IN BRIEF

665 Christ's Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus' humanity into God's heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf ⇒ Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf ⇒ Col 3:3).

666 Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father's glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him for ever.

667 Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Pius XII discusses Christ as the “Mediator between God and Men” in his encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy, “Mediator Dei”.

MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD and men and High Priest who has gone before us into heaven, Jesus the Son of God quite clearly had one aim in view when He undertook the mission of mercy which was to endow mankind with the rich blessings of supernatural grace. Sin had disturbed the right relationship between man and his Creator; the Son of God would restore it. The children of Adam were wretched heirs to the infection of original sin; He would bring them back to their heavenly Father, the primal source and final destiny of all things. For this reason He was not content, while He dwelt with us on earth, merely to give notice that redemption had begun, and to proclaim the long-awaited Kingdom of God, but gave Himself besides in prayer and sacrifice to the task of saving souls, even to the point of offering Himself, as He hung from the cross, a Victim unspotted unto God, to purify our conscience of dead works, to serve the living God. Thus happily were all men summoned back from the byways leading them down to ruin and disaster, to be set squarely once again upon the path that leads to God. Thanks to the shedding of the blood of the Immaculate Lamb, now each might set about the personal task of achieving his own sanctification, so rendering to God the glory due to Him.

2. But what is more, the divine Redeemer has so willed it that the priestly life begun with the supplication and sacrifice of His mortal body should continue without intermission down the ages in His Mystical Body which is the Church. That is why He established a visible priesthood to offer everywhere the clean oblation which would enable men from East to West, freed from the shackles of sin, to offer God that unconstrained and voluntary homage which their conscience dictates.

3. In obedience, therefore, to her Founder's behest, the Church prolongs the priestly mission of Jesus Christ mainly by means of the sacred liturgy. She does this in the first place at the altar, where constantly the sacrifice of the cross is represented and with a single difference in the manner of its offering, renewed. She does it next by means of the sacraments, those special channels through which men are made partakers in the supernatural life. She does it, finally, by offering to God, all Good and Great, the daily tribute of her prayer of praise. "What a spectacle for heaven and earth," observes Our predecessor of happy memory, Pius XI, "is not the Church at prayer! For centuries without interruption, from midnight to midnight, the divine psalmody of the inspired canticles is repeated on earth; there is no hour of the day that is not hallowed by its special liturgy; there is no state of human life that has not its part in the thanksgiving, praise, supplication and reparation of this common prayer of the Mystical Body of Christ which is His Church!"



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 659-664 – Jesus Ascended into Heaven

clock December 27, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Ascension of Jesus and His place “at the Right Hand of the Father”. Supporting material comes from St. Leo the Great’s “Sermon on the Ascension”

Article 6

"HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER"

659 "So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God."531 Christ's body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.532 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.533 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.534 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul "as to one untimely born", in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.535

660 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."536 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.

661 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.537 "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man."538 Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the "Father's house", to God's life and happiness.539 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.540

662 "and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."541 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."542 There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he "always lives to make intercession" for "those who draw near to God through him".543 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.544

663 Henceforth Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father: "By 'the Father's right hand' we understand the glory and honor of divinity, where he who exists as Son of God before all ages, indeed as God, of one being with the Father, is seated bodily after he became incarnate and his flesh was glorified."545

664 Being seated at the Father's right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah's kingdom, the fulfillment of the prophet Daniel's vision concerning the Son of man: "To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed."546 After this event the apostles became witnesses of the "kingdom [that] will have no end".547

The following excerpt comes from St. Leo the Great’s “Sermon on the Ascension II”:

The Son of Man and Son of God, therefore, dearly-beloved, then attained a more excellent and holier fame, when He betook Himself back to the glory of the Father's Majesty, and in an ineffable manner began to be nearer to the Father in respect of His Godhead, after having become farther away in respect of His manhood. A better instructed faith then began to draw closer to a conception of the Son's equality with the Father without the necessity of handling the corporeal substance in Christ, whereby He is less than the Father, since, while the Nature of the glorified Body still remained the faith of believers was called upon to touch not with the hand of flesh, but with the spiritual understanding the Only-begotten, Who was equal with the Father. Hence comes that which the Lord said after His Resurrection, when Mary Magdalene, representing the Church, hastened to approach and touch Him: Touch Me not, for I have not yet ascended to My Father (John 20:17): that is, I would not have you come to Me as to a human body, nor yet recognize Me by fleshly perceptions: I put you off for higher things, I prepare greater things for you: when I have ascended to My Father, then you shall handle Me more perfectly and truly, for you shall grasp what you cannot touch and believe what you cannot see. But when the disciples' eyes followed the ascending Lord to heaven with upward gaze of earnest wonder, two angels stood by them in raiment shining with wondrous brightness, who also said, You men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing into heaven? This Jesus Who was taken up from you into heaven shall so come as you saw Him going into heaven (Acts 1:11) . By which words all the sons of the Church were taught to believe that Jesus Christ will come visibly in the same Flesh wherewith He ascended, and not to doubt that all things are subjected to Him on Whom the ministry of angels had waited from the first beginning of His Birth. For, as an angel announced to the blessed Virgin that Christ should be conceived by the Holy Ghost, so the voice of heavenly beings sang of His being born of the Virgin also to the shepherds. As messengers from above were the first to attest His having risen from the dead, so the service of angels was employed to foretell His coming in very Flesh to judge the world, that we might understand what great powers will come with Him as Judge, when such great ones ministered to Him even in being judged.

Footnotes

531 ⇒ Mk 16:19.
532 Cf ⇒ Lk 24:31; ⇒ Jn 20:19, ⇒ 26.
533 Cf. ⇒ Acts 1:3; ⇒ 10:41; ⇒ Mk 16:12; ⇒ Lk 24:15; ⇒ Jn 20:14-15; ⇒ 21:4.
534 Cf. ⇒ Acts 1:9; ⇒ 2:33; ⇒ 7:56; ⇒ Lk 9:34-35; ⇒ 24:51; ⇒ Ex 13:22; ⇒ Mk 16:19; ⇒ Ps 110:1.
535 ⇒ 1 Cor 15:8; cf. ⇒ 9:1; ⇒ Gal 1:16.
536 ⇒ Jn 20:17.
537 Cf. ⇒ Jn 16:28.
538 ⇒ Jn 3:13; cf. ⇒ Eph 4:8-10.
539 ⇒ Jn 14:2.
540 Missale Romanum, Preface of the Ascension: sed ut illuc confideremus, sua membra, nos subsequi quo ipse, caput nostrum principiumque, praecessit.
541 ⇒ Jn 12:32.
542 ⇒ Heb 9:24.
543 ⇒ Heb 7:25.
544 ⇒ Heb 9:11; cf. ⇒ Rev 4:6-11.
545 St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 4, 2: PG 94, 1104C.
546 ⇒ Dan 7:14.
547 Nicene Creed.