This prayer, one of the options for the Feast of the Ascension, gives us an opportunity to meditate on God’s time. This week, we Lectio the Liturgy with Collect for the Feast of the Ascension.
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we, who believe that your Only Begotten Son, our Redeemer, ascended this day to the heavens, may in spirit dwell already in heavenly realms. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
I must admit that this is a fun prayer to meditate on. I began my study with the truth that God does not live in our time. I hesitated to use the word timeless because that can often mean classic, so instead, I thought about how God is outside of time. That God is the Creator of time, and everything God created is subject to time, shows us that God is greater than time and that He exists outside of it. Let’s ask God for the grace to see time through His eyes as we look at this prayer.
The Who of the prayer is about us, and we believe that Jesus ascended this day to the heavens. Now we know the Ascension wasn’t actually on this day. For some Catholics in the United States it was this past Thursday – right?
Rather than look at a calendar, let’s look at what God may see outside of time. At the Mass, we remember the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. While these events did occur over the course of a few days on a calendar, on a heavenly realm, these events are eternal. Jesus doesn’t have to die over and over. His Sacrifice is for eternity.
Jesus doesn’t ascend into Heaven every year just like he’s not born every year. His Ascension, and his birth, also occurred once, but they transcend all time. There is much to learn from the Ascension of Jesus, but for today, let’s look at two things.
First, why did Jesus have to ascend to heaven at all? In John 14, Jesus tells his disciples that he was going to prepare a place for them and that where He is going, they know the way. Thomas questions Jesus (big surprise) and asks Jesus, “we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?”
Jesus replies “I am the way.” Not knowing about the Ascension, and perhaps not understanding how Jesus is the Head of the Church, it’s a perfectly logical question for them to ask. However, we have Scripture to teach us that Jesus is the Head and we are the Body and where the Head goes, the Body will follow.
Secondly, this is where we “in spirit dwell already in heavenly realms” comes in. In Ephesians 2:6 we read, that God brought us “to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.”
The verbs raised and seated are both past tense. These indicate that being raised and seated are already accomplished.
Because we have an eternal covenant with Jesus (Hebrews 13:21-21), we are in Christ. Being “in Christ” also means that when Jesus died and rose to new life, we, when we were baptized, died to sin and rose to new life in Christ. In the Ascension, are raised up with him and seated in heavenly places.
This is the difference between being in the world and not being of the world. This is Kingdom living.
We are not walking around on earth begging Heaven to come down. While living on earth, we are in Christ, inhabitants of the Kingdom of Heaven bringing Heaven to earth, walking in the power and light of our heavenly destiny.
The first word of the prayer this week is grant. When we ask God to grant something, we not only ask his favor, we give him permission to do it. This prayer, and the Ascension, is our call to not only living in and from heavenly places, but to bring Heaven into the world.
Thanks for praying with me,