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A New Look at the Ascension

October 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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Life of Christ (Week 27 of 27)

The Ascension has never really been a mystery that's resonated with me. In fact, it's kind of confusing.

Or it has been.

Jesus comes, does all his miraculous stuff, and saves humanity through the sacrifice of the Cross and Resurrection.

But the story's not over!

He ascends.

What does that mean?

In the Gospel of Luke, we get a mere four verses about this…and I don't find them very helpful. The Gospel of Mark gives us two verses.

The Gospels of Matthew and John are silent, but Acts has seven verses.

I'm a writer: word count is something I've gotten pretty good at.

And the word count on the Ascension in Scripture is pretty low.

It's not very helpful, so I guess it's no surprise that I haven't had a lot of thought to give to the Ascension beyond a vague image of Jesus heading up into the sky on a cloud.

That made me especially perk up on Sheen's chapter on the Ascension.

Had Christ remained on earth, sight would have taken the place of faith. In heaven, there will be no faith because His followers will see; there will be no hope, because they will possess; but there will be love for love endureth forever! His leave-taking of the earth combined the Cross and the Crown that governed the smallest detail of His life. The Ascension took place on Mount Olivet at the base of which is Bethany, which meant passing through Gethsemane and the very spot where He wept over Jerusalem! Not as from a throne, but from a mountain elevated above the garden with the twisted olive trees crimsoned with His Blood, did He give the final manifestation of His Divine power! His heart was not embittered by His Cross, for the Ascension was the fruit of His Crucifixion. As He said, it was fitting that He suffer in order to enter into His glory.

In the Ascension the Savior did not lay aside the garment of flesh with which He had been clothed; for His human nature would be the pattern of the future glory of other human natures, which would become incorporated to Him through a sharing of His life. Intrinsic and deep was the relation between His Incarnation and His Ascension. The Incarnation or the assuming of a human nature made it possible for Him to suffer and redeem. The Ascension exalted into glory that same human nature that was humbled to the death.

Life of Christ, Chapter 61, paragraph 3

As he does throughout the rest of this book, Sheen grabs me by the ears and boxes me across the head with what's obvious after he points it out: Christ had to go. He had to ascend, because without the Ascension, He wasn't done.

The Ascension was the period at the end of the sentence, the full stop.

It was as necessary as the Incarnation and the Crucifixion. And while that might have made sense 2000 years ago, I appreciated Sheen spelling it out and pulling it all together.

In fact, I feel like this book was one of the best Bible studies I've ever read. I have found myself relating with Christ in a whole new way, thanks to how Sheen explains and relates things.

Reading Assignment:

None, but be sure to see the note below about our next book so you can make sure you have it!

Discussion Questions:

1. How do you relate to the Ascension? In what ways does Sheen's explanation resonate (or not) with your understanding?

2. When you consider the entire book, what most struck you? What impression are you left with?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

Our Next Book:

After taking a ONE WEEK BREAK, we will resume for our final book of the year: Beautiful Mercy: Experiencing God's Unconditional Love So We Can Share It with Others, edited by Matthew Kelly. You can use our Amazon affiliate link and we get a small portion of your purchase (without you paying any extra).

We'll start our Beautiful Mercy Book Club on October 25, 2016.

Read More:

For More Information on the Book Club:

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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