Ascension and the Eucharist
May 21, 2023
Forty days after the day of resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, and by returning to His Father, He was inevitably leaving His disciples and His Church behind in the world. Yet, if we carefully read the Jesus’ final words in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “I am with you always until the end of the age.” It seems there is a contradiction here. Jesus physically went up to heavens and left the disciples, but at the same time, He declared He will be with His Church until the end. How is this even possible?
This is truly possible, and Jesus does not lie at all. To answer this apparent contradiction, we need to understand that Jesus’ ascension is necessary to enable the new mode of presence. Yes, Jesus left, and we cannot longer see His human form, but His Body and Blood continue to be present in the Church through the Eucharist until the end of time. the Church even solemnly teaches that Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist is the real presence. Our Lord Jesus Christ is totally, really, and substantially present in the Eucharist, all His divinity and humanity. Then, how is it possible? And what is the connection with the Ascension?
To explain this, we can use our imagination and analogy. We can imagine the world, space and time as a hug bubble. Outside that bubble is eternity. During the Incarnation, the second person of the Trinity, the Logos, entered the bubble, and took His humanity from the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the Easter Sunday, He rose from the dead with His glorified body. Now, at the ascension, He went out of the bubble with His glorious body and returned to the Father. Can Jesus re-enter the bubble of time and space? Yes, if He could enter once, He could repeat it without any problem. Yet, this time, Jesus will re-enter with His glorious body and manifest Himself in the Eucharist.
Then, how is it possible for the risen Jesus to be simultaneously present in many different places as the many holy masses are celebrated in many places at the same time? We imagine that we have a piece of paper and a black-ink marker. Then, we fold the paper twice. The same paper has now four layers. We begin marking the top layer with the marker. If we hold the marker long enough, the ink starts to penetrate the first layer and go down to the second layer, and even it may go to the third and fourth layers. Surely, it is just a simple trick to bend the paper to get one spot of ink in different places simultaneously. Yet, if we, humans, can bend ‘space’ and ‘time’ of the paper, how much more God, the omnipotent creator, can easily bend the fabric of space and time of this world.
From this point, we understand that Jesus’ ascension is a natural progression in God’s plan of salvation. He ascended in order that He may be with us until the end of time through the Eucharist.