The resurrection of Christ was His triumphant entry into His glory, and in His Ascension, He was received up into glory. (I Tm. 3:16) He became thus the Lord of the living and the dead: "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living." (Rm. 14:9) As John records in the Revelation, "He laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead." (1:17b-18) At His departure from the earth, He had said: "Ail power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Mt. 28:18)
The resurrection of Christ constitutes the proof of the acceptance of His sacrifice on the cross by the heavenly Father, and the guarantee of the completion of our redemption, because death was definitely defeated and the corruption that the human race suffered as a result of the fall of Adam was done away.
In the resurrection we see the glory of the coming Kingdom of Christ. In it, the common resurrection of us all is made certain. "[He] was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." (Rm. 4:25)
When the Head of the Body, that is, the Church, rose from the dead, He raised the whole Body, which is formed by all those who believe in Him. "Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ ... and hath raised us up together..." (Eph. 2:5,6a) "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." (I Cor. 12:27)
In the Ascension, Christ made His mystical Body, the Church, ascend with Him and sit with Him in heaven. As we see from the last clause of verse six from Ephesians cited above: "...[God has] made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (2:6b)
The heavenly glory of Christ is spoken of in Scripture as His sitting on the right hand of God. This expression "the right hand" is not a place, for there is no spatial limit to the divine. It refers to the glory that belongs to God and the exercise of His power.
Again we are reminded of the Lord's words just before His ascension: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Christ, the God-Man, is vested with kingly power, and although not present in the sense that He was before His passion, death, and resurrection, He continues to be present, in accordance with His promise, and active in the world. He rules His Church as its Head (Col 1:18), and as eternal Priest, makes intercession for the faithful before the Father (Hb. 7:25).
It is in the Church that the King exercises His dominion. The Church, therefore, is the Kingdom of God on earth, for it consists of those who have been brought to the Son by the Father (Jn. 6:44), who have passed from "darkness and [have been] translated into the kingdom of His dear Son." (Col. 1:13) St. Paul exhorts the Church at Thessalonica to walk "worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory." (I Thess. 2:12)
Thus, Christ reigns in the world, but not yet over it. As He said: "My kingdom is not of this world ... but now is my kingdom not from hence." (Jn. 18:36) The "now" of the last part of this verse indicates that finally His kingdom will replace all other kingdoms and all other reigns. He will. come in His glory and in His kingdom to take possession of the whole world. He "shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom." (II Tm. 4:1) This kingdom will have no end. (Lk. 1:33; II Pt. 1:11) For, He has promised to establish this everlasting kingdom and makes those who love Him heirs to it. Was. 2:5)
Christ reigns as King and Head of His Church, gathering His sheep that are scattered throughout the world. He awakens them by the grace of the Holy Spirit, uniting them to Himself and to each other. He gives them life and nourishes them.
Christ has sent the Holy Spirit to teach His flock all things On. 14:26) and to guide them into all truth On. 16:13)
The Lord feeds and nourishes them not only with His word but with His own body and blood. The eucharistic meal is the most obvious way in which He fulfills His promise to be with them always, even until the end of the world. (Mt. 28:20)
Communion with the body and blood of Christ is precisely the way in which the faithful live and are united to Christ. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." (Jn. 6:53-56)
The life of the Church flows from its Head, fills the whole Body, and is instilled in each one of its members. From Christ, the Head, "the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." (Eph. 4:16) Thus, St. Paul confirms the unity of all the members in Christ, the dependence of all on Him and their interdependence on each other.
The Lord purchased or won the Church with His own blood (Acts 20:28); He loves it "...and gave Himself for it ... that He might present it to Himself a glorious church." His activity in the Church is to perfect it in each one of its members, that it may have neither "spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:25-27)
Likewise, the Lord protects His Church, so that His promise may be fulfilled: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt. 16:18) The fulfillment of this promise can be literally verified by the history of the Church. It has been attacked by countless enemies, from within and from without, in every generation from the day of its founding until now. Yet it has remained intact. Its message, its mission, its teachings and its life are the same as ever. Its glorious march through history constitutes the proof of its divine institution and its divine life, and, finally, of its protection by the one who is its Lord, God, and King.
“And when [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11) Thus, at His Ascension, Christ’s return to earth, His second coming, is already announced.
The Lord Himself declared several times that He would come again: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels…” (Mt. 16:27a) “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory.” (Mt. 25:31; cf. 26:64) The second coming will be unlike the first coming into the world, in that it will be a glorious coming of a king, but it is important that the Lord still refers to Himself in that day as the Son of Man.
The purpose of His coming then as King will be to judge both the living and the dead. “And He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead.” (The Creed) “And then He shall reward every man according to His works." (Mt. 16:27b) "And before Him shall be gathered all nations ... then shall the King say unto them on His right hand. Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom ...and unto them on the left, hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire ...and these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." (Mt. 25:32-46)
St. Paul also says: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (II Cor. 5:10)
After that judgment, when the condition of all those who have lived on earth will be definitively fixed, the work of the Redemption, which the Lord undertook and carried out through His triple ministry, as Prophet, Priest and King, will be finished.
When the Lord shall come "on clouds of heaven, and all His holy angels with Him," it will not be to add anything to the work of the Redemption. The point is the He that had gone away into a far country, the King, as in the parable, after having entrusted the administration of His goods to His servants, comes back and requires of them an accounting of their work.
After that last kingly act of judgment, "then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For [God] hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith all things are put under His feet, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all." (I Cor. 15: 24-28)
Thus the royal or kingly ministry of Christ continues after His glorification and after the Ascension. It is being accomplished in history after the completion of the priestly ministry.
"After He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, [He] sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting [waiting] till His enemies be made His footstool." (Hb. 10:12,13) There is still a certain course of history to be accomplished before all things are put under Him. "But now we see not yet all things put under Him. But we see Jesus ...for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour." (Hb. 2:8c-9a)
In the passage from First Corinthians cited on the previous page, there is no question of a "subordination" of the Son to the Father. The Son will have finished the work which the Father gave Him to do. This "delivering up" of His Kingdom is the logical, fitting final act on the part of the One who had been sent by the Father.
These words of St. Paul provide a summary of what is taking place historically and of what will take place in the end (eschatologically). First, the Kingdom of Christ is present in the Church in history. It is at war with the world, and its head, the God-Man Christ, will finally defeat all rule, authority and power. In short, He will defeat every enemy.
The last of these enemies is death. And Christ must reign until He destroys death. Then will He present His Kingdom, which will consist of all those of His servants who will have been judged worthy. Then the Kingdom of Christ will be identical with the Kingdom of Heaven (or of God), when the barrier between God and the fallen, antagonistic world will have been broken down by Christ. Then "God will be all and in all."