Skip to comments.The Days between the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord by St. Leo the Great [Catholic Caucus]
Posted on 11/09/2008 6:47:09 PM PST by Salvation
From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, Pope (d.461)
The days between the resurrection and ascension of our Lord
Beloved, the days which passed between the Lord's resurrection and his ascension were by no means uneventful; during them great sacramental mysteries were confirmed, great truths revealed. In those days the fear of death with all its horrors was taken away, and the immortality of both body and soul affirmed. It was then that the Lord breathed on all his apostles and filled them with the Holy Spirit; and after giving the keys of the kingdom to blessed Peter, whom he had chosen and set above all the others, he entrusted him with the care of his flock.
During these days the Lord joined two of his disciples as their companion on the road, and by chiding them for their timidity and hesitant fears he swept away all the clouds of our uncertainty. Their lukewarm hearts were fired by the light of faith and began to burn within them as the Lord opened up the Scriptures. And as they shared their meal with him, their eyes were opened in the breaking of the bread, opened far more happily to the sight of their own glorified humanity than were the eyes of our first parents to the shame of their sin.
Supper at Emmanus - Painting by Carvaggio - 1602
Throughout the whole period between the resurrection and ascension, God's providence was at work to instill this one lesson into the hearts of the disciples, to set this one truth before their eyes, that our Lord Jesus Christ, who was truly born, truly suffered and truly died, should be recognized as truly risen from the dead. The blessed apostles together with all the others had been intimidated by the catastrophe of the cross, and their faith in the resurrection had been uncertain; but now they were so strengthened by the evident truth that when their Lord ascended into heaven, far from feeling any sadness, they were filled with great joy.
Indeed that blessed company had a great and inexpressible cause for joy when it saw man's nature rising above the dignity of the whole heavenly creation, above the ranks of angels, above the exalted status of archangels. Nor would there be any limit to its upward course until humanity was admitted to a seat at the right hand of the eternal Father, to be enthroned at last in the glory of him to whose nature it was wedded in the person of the Son.
Source: The Liturgy of the Hours - Office of Readings
Saint Leo the Great (d.461) was born in Rome of Tuscan parents and served as deacon under Popes Celestine I and Sixtus III. He served as a peacemaker between the imperial generals whose quarrels left Gaul open to attacks by the barbarians. He was elected Pope in 440, succeeding Sixtus III. He completed a series of ninety-six sermons which still exist today, on matters of theology, faith and morals, clarifying the doctrine of the Incarnation, and eloquent commentaries opposing the heresies of his time. In 452, Attila and his Huns invaded Italy and were about to attack defenseless Rome when he was met at the gates by Leo. In this face-to-face meeting with Leo, Attila was dissuaded from destroying the city.
The story is told of Attila's servants asking him why he had so easily accommodated the Bishop of Rome. Attila answered that all the while the Pope was speaking there appeared in the sky above the Pope's head a figure dressed as a priest holding a drawn sword and was ready to kill him unless he consented to do as Leo asked. The figure was that of Saint Peter!
Three years later, Rome was again attacked, this time by the Vandal Genseric, who indeed plundered Rome, but at Leo's persuasion, agreed not to violate the inhabitants. Leo ministered to the stricken populace and worked to rebuild the city and its churches. He also sent missionaries to Africa to minister to the captives Genseric took back with him. Leo died in Rome on November 10, 461. His legacy advanced the influence of the papacy to unprecedented heights. In a time of great disorder, he forged an energetic central authority which affected the papacy for centuries to come.
The Road to Emaus is one of my favorite Bible stories for Easter.
|A sermon of St Leo the Great|
|The special obligations of our ministry|
|Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says: We are all one in Christ. No difference in office is so great that anyone can be separated, through lowliness, from the head. In the unity of faith and baptism, therefore, our community is undivided. There is a common dignity, as the apostle Peter says in these words: And you are built up as living stones into spiritual houses, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. And again: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart.
For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer him in love unblemished victims on the altar of ones heart?
Because, through the grace of God, it is a deed accomplished universally on behalf of all, it is altogether praiseworthy and in keeping with a religious attitude for you to rejoice in this our day of consecration, to consider it a day when we are especially honoured. For indeed one sacramental priesthood is celebrated throughout the entire body of the Church. The oil which consecrates us has richer effects in the higher grades, yet it is not sparingly given in the lower.
Sharing in this office, my dear brethren, we have solid ground for a common rejoicing; yet there will be more genuine and excellent reason for joy if you do not dwell on the thought of our unworthiness. It is more helpful and more suitable to turn your thoughts to study the glory of the blessed apostle Peter. We should celebrate this day above all in honour of him. He overflowed with abundant riches from the very source of all graces, yet though he alone received much, nothing was given over to him without his sharing it. The Word made flesh lived among us, and in redeeming the whole human race, Christ gave himself entirely.