by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
"HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER"
Upon entering Jerusalem, we recall that here rested Our Lord Jesus Christ in a close sepulcher, penetrated by neither air nor light, His Sacred Body disfigured by wounds. Wrapped in the Holy Shroud, Our Lord lies in utter darkness, reduced to isolated inertia and death. In the seeming hopelessness of the sepulcher, the triumph of the synagogue appears complete.
After two days, a ray of light penetrates the darkness, and then another, and yet another, as the angels manifested their presence. The heavy stone that guards the sepulcher cannot keep these pure spirits from entering. The angelic choir gathers and fills the empty silence with heaven’s songs.
Suddenly, the sacred body stirs, as Our Lord raises Himself from the slab on which He lies and from death itself. He had been in limbo, where He consoled the just with the Good News that the hour of their redemption was at hand. We may well imagine their joy and adoration as they welcomed their Redeemer!
As His Divine soul reanimates His mortal body, each wound shines with the sun’s brilliance. Christ’s crown of thorns is now a crown of light. Our Lord commands the stone to depart, and the sun streams in, dispelling the tomb’s darkness as the Son vanquishes the despair of death in His eternal triumph.
Where is Jesus?
Someone approaches. She is running. It is Mary Magdalen, and she is still weeping. Finding the sepulcher open with its stone rolled away and not a Roman guard in sight, she does not know what to think.
Seeing a man whom she mistakes for a gardener, she asks, “Where is Jesus?” He answers with a single word: “Mary.” The scales fall from her eyes, and she responds,
“Rabboni!” which means “Master.” However, Our Lord, whose glorious body can move faster than any rocket, is no longer there. He is in the Cenacle, where Mary Most Holy has retired to weep for her Son in the semi-darkness. Suddenly, Christ enters radiantly. She is not mistaken as Mary Magdalen was for she is His mother after all.
Let us recall Jesus’ last gaze at His Mother from the Cross’ infinite height. She is the last person He sees before He closes His eyes in death. It is a look of love that the world has never known— the love of God for His Holy Mother. Imagine then the first glance exchanged between Mother and Son after the Resurrection, as the deepest sadness becomes the greatest joy! In an instant, He returns to Mary Magdalen, for glorified, He is no longer limited to time and space.
The Hour of AscensionHe appears here and there, speaking first with this disciple, then with that disciple. Only at the Final Judgment will we know all those to whom Christ spoke, giving courage and counsel, as He prepared His Church for the battles to come.
The hour of Ascension is at hand. Jesus walks to the Mount of Olives accompanied by His mother and the Apostles. Theirs is not a simple farewell. They hang on each word of His teaching with rapt attention. If Our Lord’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor had left the Apostles awestruck, we can imagine how He must appear at the moment of His Ascension. As Jesus speaks, His body gradually begins to rise. He knows that He is rising to Heaven, but it is so natural, so proper and so normal for Him to ascend that at first, His Apostles might see it as simply another example of His glorification. However, at a certain moment, He is so high that they realize, “He is leaving us now!” And thus, the Risen Lord ascends into the glory of Heaven.