Skip to comments.The Apostles' Creed: HE ASCENDED...HEAVEN; SITTETH...RIGHT...GOD...FATHER ALMIGHTY [Ecumenical}
Posted on 06/03/2008 7:31:29 PM PDT by Salvation
"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"(St. Mark 16, 19).
After His Resurrection, Christ returned to His Apostles and "presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God" (Acts 1, 3). During these forty days, Christ laid the foundations for the Church He was to leave behind by bestowing on His Apostles all that was necessary for them to continue His work of salvation in the world:
(i) "...he opened their minds to understand the scriptures" (St. Luke 24, 45), that is, He illuminated the Apostles as to how He fulfilled the over three hundred prophesies in the Old Testament which foretold His coming;
(ii) He gave them the power to forgive sins: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (St. John 20, 23). This power was in addition to the power of binding and loosing already given to St. Peter specifically in St. Matthew 16 and to the other Apostles collectively in St. Matthew 18;
(iii) He confirmed St. Peter as the visible Head of His Church on earth: "Feed my lambs...tend my sheep" (St. John 21, 15-16). Here, the promise made by Our Lord in St. Matthew 16, 18ff to make St. Peter the rock-foundation of the Church was fulfilled;
(iv) He commissioned the Apostles to carry His Gospel to the very ends of the earth and bring all peoples into the one flock under one shepherd: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (St. Matt. 28, 19-20).
On the fortieth day after His Resurrection, Christ led His Apostles to Bethany and the Mountain of Olives. After imparting the above blessing, He raised Himself up, and as He ascended He took with Him all the Souls of the Just who had been waiting in the Bosom of Abraham: "And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight" (Acts 1, 9).
Many have surmised whether it would have been more opportune if Christ had remained visibly on earth after His resurrection to continue the work of salvation Himself. However, it was necessary for Our Lord to ascend into heaven for the following reasons:
(i) To take possession of that glory due to Him as man: "he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name" (Phil. 2, 8-9);
(ii) To be our Mediator with God the Father: "Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us" (Rom. 8, 34); "if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2, 1);
(iii) To prepare a place for us: "In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also" (St. John 14, 2-3);
(iv) To send the Holy Spirit: "it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (St. John 16, 7).
When Sacred Scripture speaks of Christ sitting "at the right hand of God" the words are used in a figurative sense, meaning that Christ, as God, is equal in all things to the Father and, as man, holds an exalted position above all the Angels and Saints: "he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come" (Eph. 1, 20-21). The Fathers St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 5, 31, 2 (C. 180 AD)
St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 5, 31, 2 (C. 180 AD):
"For since the Lord went away into the midst of the shadow of death where the souls of the dead were, and afterwards arose in the body, and after the resurrection was taken up, it is clear that the souls also of His disciples, on account of which the Lord underwent these things, will go away into the place allotted them by God." Tertullian, The Demurrer Against the Heretics 13, 1 (C. 200 AD)
Tertullian, The Demurrer Against the Heretics 13, 1 (C. 200 AD):
"Thenceforth He preached a new law and a new promise of the Kingdom of heaven; worked miracles; was crucified, rose again on the third day; and having ascended into heaven, sat at the right of the Father; and sent the Holy Spirit with vicarious power to lead those who believe." St. Leo I, Sermons 73, 4 (Ante 461 AD)
St. Leo I, Sermons 73, 4 (Ante 461 AD):
"There was great and indescribable cause for rejoicing when, in the sight of the holy multitude, above the dignity of all heavenly creatures, the nature of the human race went up, to surpass the ranks of Angels and to rise beyond the heights of the Archangels, to have its being uplifted limited by no sublimity until, received to sit with the eternal Father, it was associated on the throne of His glory, to whose nature it was joined in the Son." St. John Damascene, The Source of Knowledge 4, 2 (743 AD)
St. John Damascene, The Source of Knowledge 4, 2 (743 AD):
"By the Fathers 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." Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566)
Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):
He also ascended into heaven in order to teach us to follow Him thither in mind and heart. For as by His death and Resurrection He bequeathed to us an example of dying and rising again in spirit, so by His Ascension He teaches and instructs us that though dwelling on earth, we should raise ourselves in desire to heaven, confessing that we are pilgrims and strangers on the earth, seeking a country and that we are fellow-citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God, for, says the same Apostle, our conversation is in heaven. Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992)
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):
No. 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." Christs 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 Gods right hand. 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.
No. 664: Being seated at the Fathers right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiahs kingdom, the fulfillment of the prophet Daniels 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." After this event the apostles became witnesses of the "kingdom (that) will have no end."
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