Anna Mitchell and I will talk about "Mysteries in Religion", an Ascension Thursday sermon by St. John Henry Newman on Monday, May 18 on the Son Rise Morning Show about 7:50 am. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central.
This sermon is from volume 2 of his Parochial and Plain Sermons. He begins the sermon with the verse "It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us." Rom. viii. 34.
Unlike the sermon we talked about on Monday this week, "The Spiritual Presence of Christ in the Church" Newman does not mention the mixture of joy and sorrow the Apostles or even we might feel ("Thus Christ's going to the Father is at once a source of sorrow, because it involves His absence; and of joy, because it involves His presence.")--this sermon is all about the wonder, awe, and thankfulness we should feel:
THE Ascension of our Lord and Saviour is an event ever to be commemorated with joy and thanksgiving, for St. Paul tells us in the text that He ascended to the right hand of God, and there makes intercession for us. Hence it is our comfort to know, that "if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins." [1 John ii. 1, 2.] . . .
The first great mystery we should reflect upon is that Christ's ascension to the Father "is a sure token that heaven is a certain fixed place, and not a mere state." Heaven is real:
Newman admits that there seems to be a contradiction between the Biblical view of the world and the philosophical or scientific view of the solar system and the universe, but he admonishes that the latter is too limited to explain the reality of Heaven, the mystery of Christ's Ascension--or of His return:
Newman then cites the description of Jesus as the Great High Priest in The Letter to the Hebrews:
He proposes that we cannot completely understand how Christ intercedes for us in heaven; what He does for us in heaven; how He fulfills the office of High Priest--but we believe and know that He does:
Finally, Newman quotes the words of Jesus that "It is expedient for you that I go away . . ." (John 16:7) and makes a remarkable connection between Jesus' Ascension and the death of our loved ones--that their absence from us on earth, like His, is part of God's divine plan:
I'll post some excerpts from his conclusion on Monday.
Image Credit: the Ascension by Rembrandt (1636)