Why Did Our Lord Ascend into Heaven?
The answer to this fundamental question is found in the Preface for the Ascension, a Preface found in the Traditional Roman Rite but abandoned in the Novus Ordo.
Preface for the AscensionThe answer to our question is underlined above - "so that He might make us partakers of His Godhead." Our Lord ascended for us. He ascended so that we might become divine.
(From Ascension Day until the Vigil of Pentecost, except on feasts which have a proper Preface.)
It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation that we should at all time and in all places give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty and everlasting God; through Christ or Lord. Who after His resurrection appeared and showed Himself to all His disciples; and while they beheld Him, was lifted up into heaven, so that He might make us partakers of His Godhead. And therefore with angles and archangels, with thrones and dominations, and with all the heavenly hosts, we sing a hymn to Thy glory, saying without ceasing...
Dom Guéranger, O.S.B. expresses this sublime reason for our Lord's Ascension thusly:
Jesus ascended into heaven. His Divinity had never been absent; but, by Ascension, His Humanity was also enthroned there, and crowned with the brightest diadem of glory. This is another phase of the mystery we are now solemnizing. Besides a triumph, the Ascension gave to the sacred Humanity a place on the very throne of the eternal Word, to whom it was united in unity of Person. From this throne, it is to receive the adoration of men and of angels. At the name of Jesus, Son of Man, and Son of God—of Jesus who is seated at the right hand of the Father almighty—“Every knee shall bend, in heaven, on earth and in hell.”
Reflection from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen:
"In the Ascension the Savior did not lay aside the garment of flesh with which He had been clothed; for His human nature would be the pattern of the future glory of other human natures, which would become incorporated to Him through a sharing of His life. Intrinsic and deep was the relation between His Incarnation and His Ascension. The Incarnation or the assuming of a human nature made it possible for Him to suffer and redeem. The Ascension exalted into glory that same human nature that was humbled to the death." (Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Life of Christ)