My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
HOMILY ON THE DIVINE ASCENSION OF OUR
LORD JESUS CHRIST
By Saint Gregory Palamas
"…He rose again, according to the Scriptures,
and ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, and sits at the
the right hand of the Father; and He shall come
again with glory to judge the living and the dead
whose Kingdom shall have no end…" (Creed)
As the Holy Apostles continued looking steadfastly towards heaven, they learned authoritatively from Angels that He would come again from heaven in the same way with everyone watching [Acts 1:10). The Lord Himself foretold this, and earlier Daniel had seen it. "I saw", he said, "and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven" [Daniel 7:13]. The Lord Himself said, "All the tribes of the earth shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven" (cf. Matthew 24:30).
The Disciples worshipping the Most High Lord Who had come down from above the heavens, made the earth into heaven and gone up again whence He came, having UNITED THINGS BELOW WITH THINGS ABOVE AND FORMED ONE CHURCH, AT THE SAME TIME HEAVENLY AND EARTHLY, TO THE GLORY OF HIS LOVE FOR MANKIND. Then they returned with joy from the Mount of Olives, whence the Master had ascended, to Jerusalem and were continuously in the Temple with their minds set on heaven, praising and blessing God (Luke 24:53), and preparing themselves to receive the promised coming of the Divine Spirit.
He promised to give the Holy Spirit to those who asked Him (cf. Luke 11:13) BY DAY AND BY NIGHT, and commanded them to be always awake and watching, saying, "Be ye ready for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44). In this way, He made all the days into Blessed Sabbath for those who choose TO OBEY PERFECTLY, and so in this respect as well He did not abolish but FULFILLED THE LAW.
We, by contrast, ARE ENTANGLED IN WORLDLY AFFAIRS, but if you abstain from acquisitiveness and mutual hatred, and strive to speak the truth and be chaste, then you too will make every day a Sabbath BY BEING INACTIVE IN EVIL. When a day comes that is especially PROFITABLE FOR SALVATION, YOU MUST FREE YOURSELVES EVEN FROM BLAMELESS WORK AND WORDS, PATIENTLY STAY IN GOD’S CHURCH, LISTEN WITH UNDERSTANDING TO THE READING AND TEACHING AND CONTRITELY ATTEND T THE SUPPLICATIONS, PRAYERS, AND HYMNS TO GOD. Thus you too will fulfill the Sabbath, ordering your conduct according to the Gospel of God’s grace and lifting up the eyes OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING TOWARD CHRIST SITTING ABOVE THE VAULTS OF HEAVEN WITH THE Father and the Spirit. He has made us sons of God, not sons adopted in the name alone (cf. Romans 8:14-17), but HAVING BECOME MEMBERS OF ONE FAMILY WITH GOD AND EACH OTHER IN THE COMMUNION OF THE DIVINE SPIRITU, THROUGH CHRIST’S OWN Body and Blood.
Let us preserve this union with one another by INDISSOLUBLE LOVE. We should always look toward Our Father in heaven, for we are no longer "of the earth, earthy", like "the first man", but like "THE SECOND MAN, THE LORD FROM HEAVEN" (1 Corinthians 15:47). "As is earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (1 Corinthians 15:48-49). As we lift up our hearts to Him we shall behold the great spectacle of our nature united forever with the fire of the Divinity. And laying aside everything to do with the coats of skins in which we were clothed because of the transgression (cf. Genesis 3:21), let us stand on holy ground (cf. Exodus 3:5), each one of us marking out his own holy ground through virtue and steadfast inclination toward God.
In this way, we shall be bold when God comes in fire, and run forward to be enlightened and once enlightened live with Him forever, to the glory of Him Who is the Light above all, the Threefold Sun and Sovereign brightness, to Whom belong all glory, might, honor, and worship, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen. (Source: The Homilies of Saint Gregory Palamas)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in the Lord’s Divine and Glorious Ascension,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George