Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the fortieth day after the Resurrection in the presence of the disciples, was raised into heaven, and terminated His presence with us in the body, to abide on the Father’s right hand….
And so that which till then was visible of our Redeemer was changed into a sacramental presence.
So that faith might be more excellent and stronger, sight gave way to doctrine, the authority of which was to be accepted by believing hearts enlightened with rays from above.
This faith, increased by the Lord’s Ascension and established by the gift of the Holy Ghost…cast out spirits, drove off sicknesses, raised the dead.
Through it the blessed Apostles themselves also, who had…been panic-stricken by the horrors of the Lord’s Passion and had not accepted the truth of His resurrection without hesitation, made such progress after the Lord’s Ascension that everything which had previously filled them with fear was turned into joy.
For they had lifted the whole contemplation of their mind to the Godhead of Him that sat at the Father’s right hand.
And they were no longer hindered by the barrier of corporeal sight from directing their minds’ gaze to That Which had never quitted the Father’s side in descending to earth, and had not forsaken the disciples in ascending to heaven.
The Son of Man and Son of God, therefore, dearly-beloved, then attained a more excellent and holier fame, when He betook Himself back to the glory of the Father’s Majesty….
A better instructed faith then began to draw closer to a conception of the Son’s equality with the Father without the necessity of handling the corporeal substance in Christ whereby He is less than the Father.
For, while the Nature of the glorified Body still remained the faith of believers was called upon to touch not with the hand of flesh, but with the spiritual understanding the Only-begotten, Who was equal with the Father.
Hence comes that which the Lord said after His Resurrection, when Mary Magdalene, representing the Church, hastened to approach and touch Him: Touch Me not, for I have not yet ascended to My Father.
It was as if He had said: “I would not have you come to Me as to a human body, nor yet recognize Me by fleshly perceptions: I put thee off for higher things, I prepare greater things for thee.
“When I have ascended to My Father, then thou shalt handle Me more perfectly and truly, for thou shalt grasp what thou canst not touch and believe what thou canst not see.”
Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 74, 2-4.