Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Lord of Heaven and Earth

Resucitado by robbyandharry
Resucitado, a photo by robbyandharry on Flickr.

“He ascended into heaven and seated at the right hand of the Father Almighty.” I have serious doubts as to whether we mean what we say or at least understand what we profess whenever we recite these words of the Creed. We acknowledge that our Lord now is enthroned at the right hand of the Father but apparently, we do not see how his exaltation and enthronement is related to our daily lives. As far as many of us are concerned, the ascension of Christ into heaven may have exalted him but also it sort of isolated him. Now that he is up there in heaven, the Lord Jesus no longer has anything to do with our society and our individual lives as well. By ascending into heaven, the Lord has secluded himself in some sort of tower of ivory. Because he is way up there, we conduct our affairs here on earth the way we want them to be. Amidst the controversy about the RH bill, the legalization of divorce in very Catholic Malta gives the enemies of the Church an occasion to pursue now the cause of divorce in the Philippines. Many consider this as a test of the influence of the Catholic Church in society.

But are these issues simply tests on the social influence of the Church? I see something sinister here because what is at issue is not simply the social impact of the Catholic religion. Rather, what is at stake here is the recognition of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is what the ascension is about. It is about the exaltation of Jesus Christ as Lord of heaven and earth. Jesus ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father “far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the age to come.” This means that the Father bestows upon Jesus all authority in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He has power to rule and he reigns as king. He has the right to our obedience and humble submission: “(The Father) put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the Church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.” What is happening throughout the world is really a whole scale rebellion against the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Just think of it: the rejection of the sanctity and the creative powers of the Marital Act, the rejection of the lifelong bond of Sacred Matrimony – are these not outright rejections of Divinely revealed commandments and precepts? It does not need much effort to recognize the diabolic hand behind all these. An infernal enemy is preventing the spread of the Kingdom of God on earth. A diabolic enemy is turning the flock against the Shepherd by undermining the divinity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. It is true that our struggle today is not merely against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in higher places.

The Ascension did not isolate Jesus into some ivory tower up there. The Ascension is the enthronement of Jesus as King and Lord of heaven and earth. Being Lord, his laws and teachings apply here on earth as it is in heaven. This is why those who oppose the teachings of the Church ought to clarify in categorical terms: Do you profess allegiance to Jesus Christ? Is he your Lord and King? Because if he is, then obey his commandments. Because no one can serve two masters, no one can call for the use of artificial contraception and for Divorce and at the same time say that they belong to Christ. Catholics for a free choice are not Catholics at all! Either you are for him or you are against him. If you are not for Jesus, then you belong to the evil one. There is no grey area. “He who does not gather with me scatters,” says the Lord. Either you are a subject of Christ or his enemy. Let us call a spade a spade.

On our part, it is our mandate to “make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that (Christ) has commanded (us).” While Christ’s enemies are bent on hindering the spread of his kingdom, let us never tire of teaching all to observe his commandments. All nations are his. He redeemed us at the price of his Blood. He deserves to receive the obedience of all nations.

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