Immediately upon Jesus' Resurrection from the grave, His body was glorified as was evident by the new and supernatural powers He possessed from that time forward. This glory remained veiled during the forty days he spent with His apostles before His ascension into heaven, as he maintained His humanly form. Christ's final apparition on earth is as he ascends into divine glory in heaven, upon a cloud, and is seated at the right hand of the Father from that time forward. This apparition is viewed by Paul, establishing him as an apostle (Catechism, 1994, para. 659).
The veiled glory of our risen Lord in contrast to Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father is revealed in these mysterious words to Mary Magdalene: “I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”. The Ascension of our Lord into heaven marks this glorious transition of Christ from the risen Lord to our heavenly Lord (Catechism, 1994, para. 660).
The ascension of Christ into heaven, to be seated at the right hand of the Father, was only made possible by His descent from the Father. “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.” Man does not possess the power to access heaven, but only through Jesus Christ will anyone enter the Father's House (Catechism, 1994, para. 661).
With Christ ascending into heaven, His reign begins and calls all men to Himself: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” Seated at the right hand of the Father, Jesus Christ intercedes on our part to the Father, and thence is the focal point of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven (Catechism, 1994, para. 662).
With Jesus Christ being seated at the right hand of the Father this commences the inauguration of the Messiah's kingdom. This fulfilled the prophesy of Daniel regarding the Son of man: “To Him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” From there the apostles became witnesses of the “kingdom [that] will have no end” (Catechism, 1994, para. 664).
Jesus Christ fulfills “his participation, in his humanity, in God's power and authority” through His Ascension into heaven. With Christ in heaven, the Father has bestowed all power in heaven and on earth, and has “put all things under His feet”. With this He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion”. Jesus Christ is indeed “Lord of the cosmos and of history” (Catechism, 1994, para. 668).
From heaven our Lord rules as head of His Church, which is His body. From within His Church, Christ dwells on earth. It is within His Church that Jesus Christ exercises His authority of redemption over His flock. “The kingdom of Christ [is] already present in mystery”, “on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom” (Catechism, 1994, para. 669).
Although He is seated on His throne in heaven, Christ's reign has yet to be fulfilled “with power and great glory” by His glorious to earth. Although the evil that combs the world has been defeated by Christ's Passover, His reign remains under attack by Satan and his legion. Satan will maintain a foothold “ until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to the present age, carries the mark of the world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet wait the revelation of the sons of God” This prompts the faithful to call out Marana tha, ”Our Lord come” (Catechism, 1994, para. 671).
Before Christ ascended into His glorious reign in heaven, He affirmed that the hour has not yet come for the establishment of His messianic kingdom promised to His people. This promise, according to prophets, were to bring justice, love and peace for all men. The Lord called the present time a time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time of distress and a trial of evil from which the Church is not spared. It is this present time that will usher in the struggles of the last days. These are the present days of waiting and watching (Catechism, 1994, para. 672).
It is the promise of Christ upon His Ascension into heaven that has us, His faithful followers, waiting and watching. For once He was seated in His heavenly domain, at the right hand of the Father, the heavenly clock began, for which we do not know the hour or the day. With this knowledge we await His return from heaven and “from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”