Ascension of the Lord

“For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf.” (Hebrews 9:24.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“If the ancient custom of sacrifices is clear to you, let us see what these things also contain according to the mystical understanding. You heard that there were two sanctuaries: one, as it were, visible and open to the priests; the other, as it were, invisible and inaccessible. With the exception of the high priest alone, the others were outside. I think this first sanctuary can be understood as this church in which we are now placed in the flesh, in which the priests minister “at the altar of the whole burnt offerings” with that fire kindled about which Jesus said, “I came to cast fire upon the earth, and would that it were already kindled.” And I do not want you to marvel that this sanctuary is open only to the priests. For all who have been anointed with the chrism of the sacred anointing have become priests, just as Peter says to all the church, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” Therefore you are a priestly race, and because of this you approach the sanctuary. Therefore the priesthood is exercised in this way in the first sanctuary and the offerings are offered. And from this sanctuary the high priest, dressed in the sanctified garments, proceeds and enters into the interior of the veil just as we already pointed out above in citing the words of Paul, “Christ has entered not into a sanctuary made with hands but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” Therefore, the place of heaven and the throne itself of God are designated by the figure and the image of the interior sanctuary.” (Homilies on Leviticus, /i>9.)

Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son
is our exaltation,
and, where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the
unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen