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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE SIXTH ARTICLE: "He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand
    • THE REASONABLENESS OF THE ASCENSION
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THE REASONABLENESS OF THE ASCENSION

 

The Ascension of Christ into heaven is in accord with reason: (1) because

heaven was due to Christ by His very nature. It is natural for one to

return to that place from whence he takes his origin. The beginning of

Christ is from God, who is above all things: "I came forth from the Father

and am come into the world; again I leave the world and I go to the

Father." 8 "No man hath ascended into heaven, but He that descended from

heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven." 9 The just ascend into heaven,

but not in the manner that Christ ascended, i.e., by His own power; for

they are taken up by Christ:10 "Draw me, we will run after Thee."11 Or,

indeed, we can say that no man but Christ has ascended into heaven, because

the just do not ascend except in so far as they are the members of Christ

who is the head of the Church. "Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall

the eagles also be gathered together."12

 

(2) Heaven is due to Christ because of His victory. For He was sent into

the world to combat the devil, and He did overcome him. Therefore, Christ

deserved to be exalted above all things: "I also have overcome and am set

down with My Father in His throne."13

 

(3) The Ascension is reasonable because of the humility of Christ. There

never was humility so great as that of Christ, who, although He was God,

yet wished to become man; and although He was the Lord, yet wished to take

the form of a servant, and, as St. Paul says: "He was made obedient unto

death,"14 and descended even into hell. For this He deserved to be exalted

even to heaven and to the throne of God, for humility leads to exaltation:

"He that humbleth himself shall be exalted."15 "He that descended is the

same also that ascended above all the heavens."16

 




8. John, xvi. 28.

 



9. "lbid.," iii. 13.

 



10. "He ascended by His own power, not by the power of another as did

Elias, who was taken up into heaven in a fiery chariot (IV Kings, ii. 1);

or as the prophet Habacuc (Dan., xiv. 35); or Philip, the deacon. who was

borne through the air by the divine power and traversed the distant regions

of the earth (Acts, viii. 39). Neither did He ascend into heaven solely by

the exercise of His supreme power as God. but also, by virtue of the power

which He possessed as Man; although human power alone was insufficient to

raise Him from the dead, yet the virtue with which the blessed soul of

Christ was endowed, was capable of moving the body as it pleased, and His

body, now glorified, readily obeyed the soul that moved it" ("Roman

Catechism," "loc. cit.," 2).

 



11. Cant., i. 3.

 



12. Matt., xxiv. 28.

 



13. Apoc., iii. 21.

 



14. Phil., ii. 8.

 



15. Luke, xiv. 11.

 



16. Eph., iv. 10.

 






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