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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

I ASCEND to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God, alleluia. The most gracious Jesus, the comforter of the afflicted, after He was risen from the dead, by His most faithful lover Mary Magdalene, bade the joys of the new salvation be announced to His disciples overwhelmed with sadness in His death: saying thus: “Go to My brethren: and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father.’ ” O truly sweet and heavenly message: full of joy and love. What is so pleasant for the faithful to hear, as the ascension of the Lord into Heaven; as the passing of Jesus to the Father to intercede for us, that we may approach Him securely, Whom we have offended in many things? For since our sins make a separation between us and God; how can we be reconciled, save by the Mediator, Christ Jesus? By Whom we have access to the Father, Who for us paid the debt of sins: and made ready a place to dwell with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven. “I ascend,” He saith, “to My Father and your Father.” O wondrous condescension of God to miserable men and fleeing disciples: to the sheep scattered and lying in despair. He does not utter the title of His power, nor terrify them with a word of threatening; He does not reprove the crime of high treason, nor reproach them guilty of faithlessness: but MINDFUL OF HIS INNATE GENTLENESS, He offers mercy, and lays aside vengeance; and, after grievous fault and fearful flight, gives expression to the sweetness of brotherly love: and extends to all unfailing charity, saying thus: “Tell My brethren.” O honied sweetness of Jesus most indulgent in all His converse. Who though He be powerful, and grievously offended by His friends and subjects; sent not His torturers to drag the guilty to prison, nor degraded any one from an office bestowed: but as a good shepherd, who loves his own sheep, pities their weakness, and takes thought for their safety; now indeed He reveals Himself by angels, and now by Mary IN HIS OWN NAME gives PARTICULAR command that word be carried to His sorrowing brethren of the glory of His resurrection, saying, “Go to My brethren: and say to them, I ascend to My Father.” The sweet Master speaks sweet words: and calls them brothers, who had previously offended Him: the more fully to commend His charity, whereby He loved them even to the end. For first indeed He converted them from the vanity of the world to faith in Him; great miracles He wrought in their midst: boundless favours He bestowed upon them; the way of truth He taught them: and chose them beyond all the saints to the honour of the apostolic dignity. And these, after the storm of temptation and the weakness of fall, He calls back to repentance: and raises to a more fervent state of holiness: and rejoices with the vouchsafing of His presence; with open proofs and showing the wounds of His Passion strengthens them wavering in the faith, that they may rise the more boldly: showing them a way whereby they ought to ascend to unfading glory. “I ascend to My Father,” He saith. “If you loved Me, you would certainly rejoice in this word; for it will be profitable to you that I ascend to the Father, Who sent Me: that I may prepare a place for you in the kingdom of My Father, where you shall rejoice with all My elect for ever. Be not troubled therefore: nor overmuch saddened at My departure. I will ask the Father for you: that your sins be forgiven. I will strengthen you in adversity; I will console you in the exile of this world; I will crown you in the heavenly kingdom: where your joy shall be full, and safe from every foe. FOR IT HATH PLEASED THE FATHER TO GIVE THE KINGDOM OF GOD TO YOU POOR AND HUMBLE: WHO, DESPISING THE ALLUREMENTS OF THE WORLD, HAVE FOLLOWED MY FOOTSTEPS.”

And now at this time, when Christ was taken up in the glory of the Father, the hearts of the apostles were lifted to heavenly things; and they rejoiced over His ascension: hoping that, laying aside the burden of the flesh, they should follow Him to glory. For a GREAT trust was in them of attaining the kingdom above: who treading under foot THINGS BELOW lead a life of poverty for Christ. They had moreover the Holy Ghost promised them: strengthened by Whose gift, they feared to suffer neither chains nor prisons, nor dreadful torments of death. O happy and glorious ascension; by which man’s nature was exalted above the angels: and the destruction of the lost angels repaired by the number of men elect, signed with the blood of Christ.

Now therefore take heed thou also, faithful soul, who readest these things, to follow Christ with the steps of love: for the bodily ascension of Christ into Heaven: is the spiritual raising of the mind to God. Therefore let the sojourning of the present life give thee no further pleasure: but let rather the heavenly dwelling with the holy angels allure thee; where the souls of the saints rest from all toil and grief: gazing upon the face of Christ for ever and ever. Often turn over the sweet word of Christ, which He spoke to His disciples before the Passion, that “I go to prepare a place for you”: and remember that thou hast not here a lasting city. Sigh from thy innermost heart, because of the many hindrances that keep thee back from heavenly things: and pray to be delivered from present evils: and to go to Christ more speedily. For this is much better than here daily to struggle against vices: and ever to be fearful of divers perils. Cry with the spouse in the Canticles and say, “Draw me after Thee: where abide all good things and joy without end.” But, alas, that happy hour has not yet come: it is not yet time to reign, BUT TO SUFFER. Therefore it behoves to await the time of reward preordained of God; and pray without ceasing until God’s kingdom come: concerning which Jesus often spoke to His disciples, before He went up into Heaven; that thereby having heard the promises of everlasting glory: the combat of the present life may become more bearable. And so much the more does a soul burn with desire for the things of Heaven, the more cruelly it is afflicted in this life: FOR THIS IS A CLEAR TOKEN IN THE ELECT for the attainment of eternal salvation: if they bear patiently tribulations and labours for the name of Christ. “For it behoved CHRIST to suffer: and so to enter into His glory.” And so by patience and toil lies the way to rest: for the Father admits no man into Heaven, save he has followed His most beloved Son by the Passion and the Cross: Whom He delivered up to be crucified for our sins. Lift up therefore thy heart on high, raise thy eyes towards Heaven: consider whither thy Beloved has departed, stretch out thy hands after Him; pray, with bended knees and frequent groans, that He send thee the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, into THY HEART DRY and cold: to kindle thee and guide thee to the CHEERFUL fulfilment of EVERY GOOD WORK. Amen.

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