Thursday of the Thirty-fourth week in Ordinary Time
The Son of Man will come to take us with him
“This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven,” (Acts 1,11). He will come, say these angels, in the same way. Does that mean he will come in this unique and universal procession, that he will descend preceded by all the angels and followed by all mankind to judge the living and the dead? Yes, it is quite certain he will come, but he will come in the same way as he went up to heaven and not as he first came down. For when he came formerly to save our souls, it was in humility. But when he comes to draw this body out of its sleep in death so as to “conform it to his glorious body” (Phil 3,21) and to fill with honor the vessel that is so weak today, then he will show himself in all his splendor. Then will we see, in all his power and majesty, the one who was previously hidden beneath the weakness of our flesh…
Being God, Christ cannot grow greater since there is nothing greater than God. And yet he has found the means to grow: this was by descending, by coming to make himself incarnate, to suffer and die in order to snatch us out of eternal death. “Because of this, God greatly exalted him,” (Phil 2,9). He brought him back to life; he is seated at God’s right hand. You too, then, go and do the same: you cannot ascend without beginning by descending. “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted,” (Lk 14,11).
Happy will they be, Lord Jesus, who have none but you for guide! Grant that we may follow you, “we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,” (Ps 79 , 13); grant that we may come to you through you, for you are “the way, the truth, the life,” (Jn 14,6). The way by your example, the truth by your promises, the life because you yourself are our reward. “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” (Jn 6,68-69; Mt 16,16): God himself, higher than all things, blessed for ever.
Saint Bernard (1091-1153), Cistercian monk and doctor of the Church
2nd sermon for the Ascension