My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,



To be sure, Christ could have raised human nature to Heaven immediately after His Resurrection, but He did not do it, lest the Resurrection should seem to be an illusion. After His Resurrection Christ showed Himself to His Disciples and performed miracles and this strengthened their faith so that they became witnesses to His Resurrection. In this way, after undoing the suspicion that He was an illusion and referring to the things concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit and His Ascension, at the end He made them spectators of His Ascension. (Saint Athanasios the Great). In this way we have a True witness of this Divine happening.

Finally, Christ, a great charity and love is humbled and accepts the infirmity of human nature. Just as He has assumed all the so-called INNOCENT PASSIONS, so also He accepts the INFIRMITY OF HUMAN NATURE and does everything, IS HUMBLED, IN ORDER TO SAVE MAN.

The Lord’s events are not separate from one another, nor are they rationalized. All the feasts of the Lord are SAVING EVENTS OF THE Divine Economy, for it was by them that Christ ARRANGED THE SALVATION OF THE HUMAN RACE. Christ became man, He taught, He suffered, He was Resurrected and Ascended into heaven. There is a remarkable ONES AMONG THEM. The Ascension is the LAST FEAST OF THE LORD, it is THE END of the Annunciation and the Nativity.

Yet in the Holy Fathers, there is a slight parallel, by economy, among the feasts. We say by economy because if Christ had not become incarnate, the Resurrection and the Ascension would NOT HAVE TAKEN PLACE. And if He had not Risen from the dead, the incarnation would have appeared to be in vain.

Saint Epiphanios, Bishop of Cyprus, analyzing the Greatness and the value of the feast of the Ascension, says that many people who do not know the greatness of this feast regard it as lower than the others. However, just as the head is the jewel of the body, so also the feast of the Ascension is an embellishment of all the feasts. It is the FULLNESS OF THE FEASTS OF THE LORD. A first feast in the awe-inspiring and wonderful Nativity of Christ in the flesh. Second, is the feast of the Theophany, which has a greater vision of God than the first. The third feast is the Resurrection, which was shown to be more glorious than the preceding ones because death was conquered, but even this did not have the fullness of joy, because Christ was still on earth. However, the feast of the Ascension FILLED THE WORLD WITH REJOICING, BECAUSE WHEN CHRIST OPENED THE HEAVENS, HE SHOWED US AN EXTRAORDINARY SIGHT, “OUR FLESH LIFTED UP ON THE KINGLY THRONE” AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD THE FATHER. So the value of the Ascension is in the fact THE HUMAN FLESH WHICH WAS DEIFIED (THEOSIS) BY ITS UNION WITH THE DIVINE NATURE OF THE Logos/Word, is seated on the Kingly Throne, at the right hand of God the Father.

By His incarnation, Christ deified (theosis) human nature, but men did not have much knowledge of the Greatness of His Glory, and that is why they misunderstood Him, slandered Him, and finally Crucified Him. But when Christ ascended into heaven, then men gained knowledge of Christ. Thus the incarnation, with the Ascension which followed, FILLED THE WORLD WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD (Saint Diadochos of Photike).

But Saint Athanasios the Great, referring to the two feasts of the Lord, those of the RESURRECTION and the ASCENSION, says that the feast of the Resurrection grants to men the PRIZE OF VICTORY OVER DEATH, while Christ’s ASCENSION, LIFTS UP TO HEAVEN, and since it changes man’s way of life on earth, IT MAKES HEAVEN ACCESSIBLE TO HIM. Therefore, VICTORY OVER DEATH is one thing and another is THE ASCENT OF HUMAN NATURE TO THE THRONE OF GOD. This precisely why through this Event one can see the superiority of the Ascension, or to express it better; THE PERFECTION AND FULLNESS OF THE Divine Economy.

Saint Gregory Palamas says that the Resurrection IS CONNECTED WITH ALL MEN. but THE ASCENSION ONLY WITH THE SAINTS. This is said from the point of view that by His Resurrection Christ CONQUERED DEATH AND GAVE THE GIFT OF RESURRECTION TO ALL. All will be resurrected on the Day of Christ’s Second Coming, BOTH THE RIGHTEOUS and SINNERS, but NOT ALL WILL BE TAKEN UP. Only the righteous, the deified (theosis) WILL BE FOUND WORTHY OF THIS GREAT EXPERIENCE. The holy Apostle Paul confesses: “And those who have died in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus WE SHALL ALWAYS BE WITH THE LORD” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Thus ALL WILL BE RESURRECTED, but ONLY THE RIGHTEOUS WILL BE TAKEN UP, WILL BE CAUGHT UP IN THE CLOUDS TO MEET CHRIST COMING FROM HEAVEN. This shows A GREATER COMMUNION AND UNITY WITH Him. That is why, from the Soteriological (salvific) point of view, the Ascension IS REGARDED AS A GREAT FEAST, PRECISELY BECAUSE HE WHO HAS A SHARE IN THE ASCENSION HAS A SHARE IN DEIFICATION (THEOSIS). [Source: The Feasts of the Lord.  An Introduction to the Twelve Feasts and Orthodox Christology by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos HIEROTHEOS].

“Glory Be To GOD
All Things!”
– Saint John Chrysosomos
+ + +

With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Ascension,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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