The Ascension Of Jesus – OpEd


In academic and seminar settings, I was always asked the difference between Christ’s Ascension and Mary’s Assumption, both going up to heaven? 

And the answer is as simple as the question. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, ascended into heaven (body, soul, and humanity) by His own divine power and was seated at the right hand of the Father. The Blessed Virgin Mary was raised up to heaven (body and soul) by the authority and power of the Triune God (see Ascension Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and the Dogma of the Assumption, 1950).

Its significance. Jesus was seen ascending into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father (Mt 26:64; Lk 22:69). St. Paul to the Philippians: “We are indeed citizens of heaven (the City of God).” 

In the same fashion, and this is also what Christians believe, the bodily glorification of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her Assumption is an anticipation of our bodily glorification. In the Apostles’ Creed, it is mentioned: I believe… in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

The human body’s destiny is anchored on the revealed truth of the bodily glorification of Jesus and Mary, in his splendid Resurrection and Ascension and in Mary’s glorious Assumption into heaven.

Is death the final destiny of the human body? The Catholic faith tells us no, death is not the final destiny, because after death, the human body corrupts, becomes food for the worm, and waits for the resurrection of the body to be reunited with the soul in the Last Judgment, or what is considered the Second Coming of Christ.

Furthermore, it begs the question: Why disturb and raise the corrupted body (ashes, dust) already resting in peace?

At the end of time, at the General Judgment, also known as the Parousia, Jesus Christ will come again to judge us, not just the soul but also the resurrected body because, in our lifetime, the human body, when still on earth, has been the very instrument to do good or do evil.

As an instrument of good, the human person may have used the eyes for reading the Bible, for instance. On the other hand, the human person may have used the body (members) when he or she had the same eyes used to create or view child pornography.

For good reason, logically, when Jesus Christ comes the second time, he will “judge the living and dead” and will send both the resurrected body and soul, together, into eternity, which in the Christian sense is an indescribable timeless period or a period beyond time.

As a result, heaven or hell, rather than death, is the ultimate destination of both the soul and the resurrected body, according to Christian doctrine.

Ascension leads to an exercise of faith. Christianity was born and spread immediately after the Paschal Mystery or the life, passion, death, Resurrection, Ascension of Jesus, and finally Pentecost.

The coming of the Holy Spirit, Third Person of the Trinity, historically and in the History of Salvation, was made possible by the Ascension of the Second Person into heave, which led to the absence of Jesus on earth.

As it were, these events put the Apostles and believers (all of us) to practice faith in Jesus Christ, who is the unseen Lord and Savior. Naturally, it is easy to say: I believe and muster all fortitude “to renew the face of the earth” when you see or know Jesus Christ physically present, and it is most difficult to believe after He is gone.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe,” Jesus told doubting Thomas (John 20:29).

Sad to say, Hollywood stars such as Jodie Foster, a magna cum laude graduate of literature from Yale, George Clooney, Kevin Bacon, Javier Bardem, Bruce Lee, Julianne Moore, and Daniel Radcliffe, and an ocean of humanity today no longer believe in God, hell, and heaven. 

Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:25-59). Jesus chose to remain ordinary in the form of a bread—a wafer, an unleaven bread in the Holy Eucharist called the Real Presence—after the Ascension and until the end of time, until his glorious Second Coming as Christ the King to judge the living and the end. 

Faith is what makes us believe. The Holy Eucharist smells like bread, looks like bread, and tastes like bread, but Jesus Christ is the Divine Physical Presence on earth. In the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus Christ is guarded faithfully by lighted red lamp in the altar of every church. Faith tells us to genuflect every time we enter the House of God because God is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.

Heaven is real. Jesus was seen ascending into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father (Mt 26:64; Lk 22:69), for which St. Paul told the Philippians: “We are indeed citizens of heaven (the City of God).”

The present knowledge of God by us, the residents of this planet, and the beatific vision in heaven are entirely different. Right here, right now, our present understanding of the Holy Trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—is unclear, incomplete, and imprecise. 

In heaven, it’s a different story. Faith and hope disappear, and only love remains (St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 13). In heaven, God will elevate your intellect and mine supernaturally, and with it, you and I can see the living God face-to-face, without veils or mere reflections. Theologians call it lumen gloriae, or “the light of glory.” Again, all this is a matter of faith. 

When asked what she would like to hear God say after reaching heaven, Julianne Moore replied, “Well, I guess you were wrong, I do exist.” For the Hollywood actress, because God doesn’t exist, heaven doesn’t exist.

Allow me to conclude with the words from The Yale Book of Quotations (Yale University Press, 2006): “For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible.”

Dr Jose Mario Bautista Maximiano

Dr. José Mario Bautista Maximiano is the lead convenor of the Love Our Pope Movement (LOPM) International. Jose Mario Bautista Maximiano, based in the Philippines capital Manila, is a Catholic scholar, public educator and columnist. He is author of the three-volume work on the Chronological and Thematic Essays: 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines.

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