The Catholic Defender: Jesus Ascension begins the Office of the Papacy
This past Thursday was Ascension Thursday, which will be celebrated at Divine Mercy here in Gardner Kansas on Sunday, so I will write about it today on Thursday.
About three years previously, Jesus began his public Ministry with being baptized by St. John the Baptist.
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn; To place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit” (Isaiah 61:1-3).
We see this scripture fulfilled at the baptism of Jesus. It is at this point that Jesus begins His public ministry.
The Gospel of Matthew records what happens, “The Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased “ (Matthew 3:13-17).
This is a most important connection that St. Matthew reveals because Jesus is truly the Messiah that Isaiah bore witness to.
This scene in Matthew is also important because we see a glimpse of the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We will again see this image at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8). After the Resurrection, Jesus will send the Catholic Church to go to all the nations to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).
This is important for all of God’s people because we have the means to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through our own Baptism (Acts 2:38) and receive the power of the Holy Spirit through the “laying of hands” (Hebrews 6:2).
St. Paul instructs St. Timothy, “Do not lay hands too readily on anyone, and do not share in another’s sin. Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22).
Why do we see this caution from St. Paul? St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians is key!
He writes, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me” (Colossians 1:24-29).
St. Paul is instructing us to prepare our converts, preparing them to receive the gift and power of the Holy Spirit. St. Timothy is instructed not to “lay hands” too readily.
They must be prepared and instructed in the Faith.
St. Paul says “The aim of this instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).
Regardless if you are a catechumen, a candidate, or you are a life long Catholic, the Church calls us to take self inventory.
Jesus was tempted, He began His public Ministry being “led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).
The 40 days has a symbolic meaning for Christians. We see the Israelite wandering in the desert for 40 years.
Jonah warned the Ninevite that God would destroy the great city in 40 days (Jonah 3:4) and the people responded by covering themselves with sackcloth and ashes.
God spared them because of their repentance. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, a 40 day season of the Church.
It is at the Easter Vigil that millions around the world are be received into the Catholic Faith.
Catechumens are baptized and along with the Candidates, are confirmed into the Catholic Faith.
They will receive the Eucharist and share at the Table of Plenty with the whole Church!
Ascension Thursday is so important because it is the birth of the Papacy.
Daniel 7:13-14 states, “As the visions during the night continued, I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.”
Consider what Jesus Promised to St. Peter, “Blessed are you Simon son of Bar-Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter (Kapa), and upon this rock (Kapa) I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what ever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19).
Consider Jesus, the Son of Man, giving the keys to his “Royal Stewart” once He received this dominion at the appointed time with the Ascension of Jesus.
Historically, Jesus was crucified on April 3, 33 A.D. rising from the dead on the morning of the 5th of April. His Ascension would take place on May 15, 40 days later.
Jesus is the stone that destroys the great statue of Babylon. “In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people”.
Ascension Thursday is a very important feast of the Church!