All Power Is Given to Me

All Power Is Given to Me


Today’s feast takes us in two directions. The first direction is upwards, beyond the heavens where Christ our Lord is henceforth enthroned as king of kings and lord of lords. He is there, in Heaven, and Heaven is not just a state, or a frame of mind, nor is it the cosmic Christ or the omega point, nor is it fairyland. It is a real and true place, a place to which we are called, a place where the Lord Himself tells us that we each have our own place prepared in the bosom of the Holy Trinity. Jesus our Lord Himself has made it ready and He wants us there with Him.

This is why Ascension is the great feast of hope. It is the feast which lifts up our minds and hearts to our eternal destiny, calling us to dwell already in thought and desire in that everlasting Home to which we are called. It is the feast which tames the desires of the flesh by showing us the eternal delights of being with the Lord, with which earthly satisfactions are not worthy of comparison. Let us then make every effort to contemplate the glory of our Saviour on this day, and let us ask Him to take us to Himself very soon.

The other direction this feast takes us in is that of the mission. Just before rising to Heaven, the Lord tells the apostles: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (Mt 28:18-20).

These words are meant to remind us of the third temptation of Our Lord in chapter four of the same Gospel, when the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. The devil had promised Our Lord power over all the earth if only He would submit Himself to Satan. Our Lord refused, saying: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.

Satan wanted Our Lord to accept power over this world, a power that he can indeed give and does often give to foolish worldlings. But Our Lord rejects the offer, chooses to walk in the Father’s will and to receive all things from His hands, and in exchange, on this day He is given power not only over the earth, as Satan had promised, but also over the Heavens. All power is given to Him in heaven and on earth.

But let’s stop and consider for a moment a word in the sacred text that could easily go unnoticed. It is the conjunction therefore. All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations. Our Lord makes the mission of the Church flow directly from His omnipotence, as if to say that it is His will that the power of God be made manifest through the preaching of the Gospel and the triumph of the Church. Let’s note that He did not say: All power is given to me, and so don’t worry, I have it all wrapped up, so just go and make friends of the nations, don’t rock the boat, and at the end of time, all will be will. That, in a nutshell, is the gospel according to the modern church, inspired by Origen, Urs von Balthasar and Karl Rahner.

No, the omnipotence of the Lord leads straight into the command to preach the Gospel, to convert souls, to impose upon them the discipline of the faith. It is precisely because Christ has all power that He sends His apostles, His Church, on a mission to convert all souls around the world. They and we are sent by Christ Himself, and therefore need no one’s permission or assent to preach the truth that alone saves and which all need in order to be saved. No human authority is authorised to oppose the preaching of the Gospel and the Church requires no one’s consent to do so. Many martyrs have borne witness to this through their blood.

The history of the Church has been a continual struggle for that right to prevail over the powers that be in every age, the proud men and governments who pretend to legislate what the apostles and their successors can and cannot do. The doctrine of the Church on this matter, as that of the social kingship of Christ, is exceedingly clear. Unfortunately few in the Church have the courage to acquit themselves of their task without giving ear to the secular powers that wish to dictate the way things should be. Today the great danger for the Church is that of a relativistic globalism in which the supreme law is being nice to each other. In that context, the great temptation is for the Church to transform itself into a different Church, one that so goes out of herself – as we have been hearing so much of late – in aligning herself with the globalists that she forgets who she is and what is her mandate. Her role then becomes that of the globalists and therefore no longer that which Jesus Christ gave her.

So this day is also one on which we must pray much for the mission of the Church, so that the preachers of the Gospel themselves may first of all recover a full and entire faith in Jesus Christ and the necessity of the faith for salvation. Without these, all the rest of their efforts are doomed to failure, and they are all worthless, for if the Church does not save souls, she does nothing, and if she does not preach the truth in its fullness and impose upon the faithful strict adherence to the Gospel, she does not save souls, she only deludes them into thinking that all will be saved no matter what they believe or how they live. That is the gospel of satan, not of Jesus Christ. It is the great lie that deceives many.

Our joy on this day is that the true omnipotence of Jesus is not diminished by the weakness of the modern church. He has overcome, and His truth, today as yesterday, transforms souls who open themselves to it.

All power is given to me in Heaven and on earth. Do not be afraid. I am with you always, even to the end of the world.