Ascending with Jesus, the Divine Mercy

By Chris Sparks

“My weight is my love.” (Pondus meum amor meus.) — St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, 13.9.10.

What attracts you? The answer will be as unique as you are.

Some things (or people) attract because they are beautiful. The entertainment industry across the centuries, from the days of traveling circuses and carnivals up to the present days of digital everything, has always set great store in physical beauty. After all, whatever gets people to pay money and sit down for an hour or two in front of their stage, their curtain, or their screen is valuable to entertainers!

Some things or people are attractive because they are strong or powerful. My uncle the computer geek, for instance, will always buy the latest and greatest, the fastest and strongest computer, because, he says, they become obsolete so quickly, you might as well get the fastest because it will be useful the longest.

Some things are attractive because they are fascinating, because they seem impossible, unreal, extraordinary. That’s the recipe for stage magicians down the ages, for acrobats and performers of death-defying feats.

Some things and people are attractive because they are family, because they are homey, because they are comfortable or at least familiar. In the face of trouble, how many people have fled to their hometown, to their family, to their loved ones?

When St. Augustine spoke of love being gravity, he was making a point about the power of attraction, and about how love, like gravity, draws to the center, to the point in our lives around which everything else moves. In the average life, that center of gravity, that point of attraction, can be any number of things — our family, or our career, or food, or sex, or pleasure, or money, or power. But Christians are called to be different, to live supernatural lives rather than natural ones. We are supposed to practice our faith, and so over the years learn to imitate Jesus.

The center of gravity for Jesus, the Incarnate Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, was the Father and His Love. So, at the end of His earthly life, He ascended into Heaven. He went, Body and Soul, back home to the One who loved Him.

It’s one of the great mysteries of our faith that space is connected to physical bodies, and yet Heaven is a home for spirits. So when Jesus “ascended” into Heaven, where did He go? What does it mean, now, that His body is there in Heaven? In what sense is that true? Where, for that matter, would we say the Mother of God, assumed into Heaven body and soul, is?

In Jesus and Mary, bodies fully glorified, we see a foreshadowing of the other side of the end of the world, of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. We see the consequences of total abandonment to the will of God, to sharing in the life and love of the eternal Trinity.

Saint Faustina describes what it’s like from experience:

May 6, [1937]. The Ascension of Our Lord. Since early this morning, my soul has been touched by God. After Holy Communion, I communed for a while with the heavenly Father. My soul was drawn into the glowing center of love. I understood that no exterior works could stand comparison with pure love of God ... I saw the joy of the Incarnate Word, and I was immersed in the Divine Trinity. When I came to myself, longing filled my soul, and I yearned to be united with God. Such tremendous love for the heavenly Father enveloped me that I call this day an uninterrupted ecstasy of love. The whole universe seemed to me like a tiny drop in comparison with God. There is no greater happiness than when God gives me to know interiorly that every beat of my heart is pleasing to Him, and when He shows me that He loves me in a special way. This strong inner conviction, by which God assures me of His love for me and of how much my soul pleases Him, brings deep peace to my soul. Throughout this day, I was unable to take any food; I felt gratified to the full with love (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1121).

It is by the Love of God that we are united to the Blessed Trinity. It is by grace, by the divine life given to us through the Sacraments and the Church, that we enter into the fullness of love. All who go to Heaven do so on the strength of the Love of God, whose second name is mercy. When Jesus ascended to the Father, He brought the rest of the Body with Him, the Head preceding the members in entering the fullness of grace and glory, the firstfruits of the resurrection (see 1 Cor 15:20). Father Michael Gaitley, MIC, goes into beautiful depth on all of this in his book The ‘One Thing’ is Three.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension, let us unite ourselves to Jesus’ return to the Father through prayer, Word, and Sacrament. Let us thank God for His impossible, unthinkable generosity in welcoming us as sons and daughters in the Son of God, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, as branches grafted onto Christ the Vine, the Divine Mercy Incarnate. Let us love and honor Him from whom everything comes, whose three great acts of mercy — creation, redemption, and sanctification — offer us hope beyond life and death, beyond tragedy and trials, beyond anything this world, the flesh, or the devil can offer.

Jesus, I trust in You!

Chris Sparks serves as senior book editor for the Marian Fathers. He is the author of the Marian Press book How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question.


Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

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