Confession: until I started pouring on the praying of the Rosary, like, a lot, my meditation on the Second Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary, the Ascension of Jesus to heaven, was all about me, you know – there He goes, to heaven, and we miss Him terribly… oh… woe is me… – laying myself open to being reprimanded by the angels. It’s never a pleasant experience to be reprimanded by any angel, but there I was, again and again doing what the Apostles did only to get smacked down:
- Acts 1:9-11 — “[…] He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.”
In other words, get about what you are supposed to do according to the command of Jesus:
- Matthew 28:19-20 — “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” thus being Jesus’ “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
It was always so much easier to put everything on Jesus, watching Him teach in all Truth, with such goodness and kindness, but Him, not me. How we would be able to be formed into members of the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit so that we could get out of the way and have Jesus work through us is promised by Jesus at this point, His sending of the Holy Spirit. But do we want to hear that? Or do we want to just look into the sky?
And that’s where my meditation ended for this Mystery. Such academics were difficult for me, making the Rosary difficult for me. I would memorize the passages in Greek. I would come up with all sorts of really cool, if shallow, meditations. It’s not that I wasn’t saying any Rosaries, but I wasn’t saying the Rosary really a lot. So, I didn’t get it.
Enter the Two Hearts Rosary. There’s another passage about the Ascension of Jesus which escaped my attention all this time, but it was dearest Immaculate Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, who opened my eyes. This is a matter not of mere academics, but of love, and we are drawn into this by Mary’s maternal solicitude:
- John 14:27-29 — […] “Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it happens, so that when it does happen, you will believe.
Wait… what? “If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father…” Who loves Jesus more than dearest Mary? Who could possibly rejoice more than she? And what’s going on with her at this time to bring her to such rejoicing? Can I somehow rejoice with her about her Son going to the Father?
Let’s review: Jesus had been preparing His mother all His life for when He would be missing for three days and three nights after being tortured to death in front of her, she standing always with her Son in His trials like no other. Witness His disappearance for three days and three nights in the Temple as a youngster so as to instruct her with such great solicitude for her welfare: Two Hearts Rosary: Finding Jesus in the Temple? Witness His agony in the garden, all about not wanting to see her suffer so much for Him: Two Hearts Rosary: Whose agony is it? But she would suffer, like only a mother can, like only an Immaculate Mother can, with such purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of vision and profundity of understanding. She suffered. As the doctors of calvary instruct us about what they see in the Gospels and on the Shroud, Jesus’ own Sacred Heart, the pericardium, literally broke in His agony over her, causing the blood to separate and then gush out hours later when He was pierced through by the soldiers sword. She’s not going to suffer such an agony of maternal solicitude for Him? Of course she is. Surely a sword of sorrow also pierced her very soul, surely causing this same stress-heart-attack, survivable, but not for long. Mary would make it to Pentecost, but would not survive much longer. She died not because of original sin, but because of her Immaculate Conception, such great love.
So, what has this to do with the Ascension, forty days after the Resurrection and ten days before Pentecost? Here’s Mary, a Mother, having gotten her Son through what He needed to do, and the complete offering of the economy of salvation almost complete with Holy Spirit about to be sent. She’s still mortally wounded. She rejoices in the great victory of her Son. She rejoices that she, by grace, has stood next of Him always in His trials. She rejoices, now that He has obeyed the Father unto death, death on a cross, that He can now return in great triumph to the Father. Yes, He was always with His Father as He is God, but we’re talking not only about His divine nature but also about the human nature of the divine Person of Jesus. Mary provided that human nature. Mary did that. And how very wonderful for her to see that such a human nature in the divine Person of Jesus her Son would now go before the Father with great, great rejoicing! “Father! I have done you will!” Jesus’ joy is also hers with Him. If we loved Jesus, we would be rejoicing with Him that He goes to the Father, rejoicing I say. No one loves Jesus more, rejoices with Jesus more than dearest Immaculate Mary. We rejoice with her.
And she is not abandoned here, even while she is mortally wounded. She knows she must wait for the Holy Spirit to complete the economy of salvation. She knows that Jesus is preparing a place for her, that He is preparing a welcome for her with all the saints and angels with the gates of heaven thrown open. What joy there will be! But don’t be mistaken, this great joy is for her not about her, but is a joy in witnessing the rejoicing of the Father in welcoming also the human nature of the divine Person of His Son into heaven. It is to be our joy to witness the joy of the Father having received His Son into heaven. Dearest Mary’s joy… unsurpassable… rightly so. And we rejoice in her joy. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Excuse me for my exuberance.
Back to the dreariness of this dark world… Take a look again at that picture of that weird shaped building behind a wall up top of this post. That’s the church of the Ascension of Jesus. It was walled up by the ISIS Mohammedans very many centuries ago. They don’t love Jesus. They don’t believe that He died on the Cross for our redemption and salvation because, they say, Allah doesn’t have a Son, didn’t send His Son into this world, and certainly not to lay down His life for us, the Innocent for the guilty, to fulfill righteousness, because Allah cannot love us that much. Well, that’s true. Allah cannot love us at all because, first of all, Allah doesn’t exist. But, instead, God so loved the world that He sent His only Son…” The ISIS Mohammedans of the day capped the church, putting a roof on it because they wanted to deny the Ascension: We’ll show Him! We’ll put a roof over the church, and therefore He cannot ascend to heaven! The ISIS Mohammedans of the day didn’t love Jesus and are not happy that Jesus ascends to heaven. This church had been built with no roof at all. But do we also cap the church of the Ascension, not happy that Jesus goes to heaven, too much concerned about ourselves, with the supposed absence of Jesus, so that now we are grudgingly obliged to instruct the nations in all charity, only grudgingly providing the Sacraments to the Little Flock of Jesus?
Holy Mary, Mother of God, please ask Jesus that we might rejoice with you about your dear Son going to heaven, that we might rejoice with you in the Father’s joy of welcoming also the human nature of the divine Person of Jesus into heaven, with us trusting that Jesus will be with us to the end of the ages, when He comes again in power and majesty and great glory. Hail Mary… (x10)
By the way, that greeting of the angel Gabriel to Mary – “Hail” – is, in Greek, “Rejoice!”
P.S. It was this Mystery of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven which for very many months was pushing me with urgency to jot down some notes on the Two Hearts Rosary. This opened my eyes. How blind I have been my entire life, always present, but not. I guess what I’m trying to speak to in all this commentary is about the lively solidarity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It’s just so… right. Jesus, the Son. Mary, His Mother. And we beholding them as the tiniest of her children, the tiniest members of the Little Flock of Jesus. As one reader says, that’s what has us squeal for joy.
“If you loved me, you would be happy…”