Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Ascension of the Lord

Solemnity of Ascension - Sermon in Chapter of Community

----- Forwarded Message -----From: Raymond ...
Sent: Thu, 2 June, 2011 5:35:15
Subject: Ascension

The bodily Ascension of the Lord into Heaven is surely one of the major events 
in the life of Jesus.  It is on a par with the other salient events of the 
Lord’s life such as the Annunciation, the Nativity, or the Transfiguration and, 
of course the Resurrection.  Considering these high points in the life of Christ 
all together, we might say that the nearest, in similarity, of these events to 
the Ascension would be the Transfiguration.  In both scenes we have The Lord 
standing before his disciples confirming their faith in him and bearing a kind 
of witness to them of just who he was.  Each scene is a kind of climactic moment 
of revelation.
Yet there the similarity ends and what a difference there is in the kind of 
witness he bears to himself in each of these two scenes:
At his transfiguration he appears in glory, his face shining like the sun and 
his garments white as snow; on the other hand, at the Ascension, where one would 
expect something even more glorious, more climactic, there is no mention of 
light or glory.  We are simply told that “he was taken up out of their sight”.
In St Mathew’s Gospel the Risen Jesus meets the Apostles at the appointed place 
in Galilee but his appearance is so ordinary that although some of them bow down 
before him yet seemingly he appears so ordinary that others doubt him.  The 
scene then ends abruptly with the Lord commanding them to go to the ends of the 
earth to preach the Gospel.  There is no mention of a glorious ascension.
St Mark gives a very similar picture; again without any mention of a glorious 
When we to turn to Luke we learn that, as he blessed them, he was carried up to 
heaven.  But there is still no mention of his appearing bright and shining and 
John, of course, doesn’t even mention the ascension at all, although he does 
have several post-resurrection appearances.  But again, these are of a very 
ordinary human Jesus.  .....Mary Magdalen thought he was the gardener.....He 
said to Thomas: “Put your hand into my wounds!  A ghost doesn’t have flesh and 
blood!....”  He said to the Apostles in the boat: “Come and have breakfast”
All these facts would seem to add up to Jesus going to great lengths to ensure 
that the Jesus we see being taken up to heaven was a very ordinary Jesus; a very 
ordinary, three dimensional human being.  That, in a way, Brings heaven closer 
to us; makes heaven more real for us, more tangible, more accessible, more 
attainable for us all.
The Ascension then marks a kind climactic point in the mission of Jesus.  It 
marks the completion of the transition from a Jesus who, in his earthly life, 
strove to convince mankind of his divinity, to a Jesus who, now in his heavenly 
life strives to assure us of his enduring humanity – even from the glory of his 

+ + +
The Ascension of Christ, Jaume Ferrer II, (14-1434)

Front cover: The Ascension of Christ, Jaume Ferrer II, from the Verdu Altarpiece, Lleida School (1432-1434), Episcopal Museum of Vie, Catalonia, Spain. © Picture Desk / Gianni Dagli Orti. (For more information on this painting, please see the commentary on p. 432.)

Until the end of time ...
Artwork of the front cover of Magnificat missalette.
The magnificent treatment of the fabrics and golden backgrounds in this altarpiece panel permits us to set­tle a historical question. The painter from the Catalan city of Lleida who created this masterpiece, James Ferrer II, is in fact the same person as his' renowned eponymous contemporary, the expert designer and maker of pannus aureus, the celebrated "cloth of gold". This sumptuous fabric consisted of brocade or damask interwoven with golden threads, used in coronation vestments for kings as well as drapery coverings for their coffins. It was also used to celebrate the King of kings in the liturgy, in particular for covering altars. In this case, the dye pigments were diluted with holy water.
Here Mary and the eleven apostles contemplate the Ascension of the Lord. On the holy mountain, the imprint of his feet reveals that Christ remains mysteriously present in our lives. Mary is adorned with a white veil and a black mantle: a widow, she wears mourning for her son as well. However, the lining of pure gold attests that her immaculate heart is suffused with the radiance of the resurrection. Facing Mary, John is cloaked in the colour of the rosa mystica, symbol of the highest level of spiritual elevation. Behind our Lady, James is curiously clad in "cloth of gold": by representing his patron saint in this manner, the painter affirms that he is none other than the acclaimed textile weaver. Similarly, at right, beneath the purple mantle worn by the Head of the Church, Peter is vested in the habit of the Friars Minor. This is a direct homage to the master painter and friend of james Ferrer, Peter Teixidor, member of the Third Order Franciscans. In reality, these two painters co-produced this work, each one composing the portrait of the other under the figure of their respective patron saints.
Pierre-Marie Dumont

No comments: