My beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord and God and Savior JESUS CHRIST,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE DIVINE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Mode 4.
THOU ascended in glory, O Christ our God,
after Thou filled the Disciples with joy, by
promising to send them the Holy Spirit, and
Thou blessed them and established their
faith, that Thou are the Son of God, the
Redeemer of the world.
Entrance Hymn. Mode 2.
God ascended with a shout, the Lord with the
sound of trumpet. Save us, O Son of God,
Who were taken up in Glory to Heaven from
Kontakion Hymn. Mde pl. 2.
When Thou had fulfilled the dispensation for our
sake, and united things on earth with the things
in heaven, Thou were taken up thither in glory, O
Christ our God, going not away from any place,
but continuing inseparable, and to them that love
Thee crying out: "I am with you, and there is,
therefore, none against Thee.
FORTY DAYS after His Most Glorious Resurrection Christ ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, where He had been previously, according to His Own words to the Disciples before His Passion: "Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?" (John 6:61-62). Of course, this does not mean that Christ, as God, was not in heaven during the time of His incarnation, but that He would go up even with His human flesh. Moreover, His coming down from heaven is meant as Divine condescension and NOT AS A CHANGE OF PLACE.
In the time between His Resurrection and Ascension, He appeared many times to His Disciples, to whom He revealed the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, according to the words of Saint Luke: "to whom he also presented himself alive after his suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during FORTY-DAYS, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).
The Feast of the Lord’s Divine Ascension has great meaning and importance for the Christian and spiritual life because IT IS CONNECTED WITH THE DEIFICATION (THEOSIS) OF EVERY PERSON. In what follows, presenting the central Christological points of this Great Feast of the Lord. The Old Testament makes prophecies about this Great Event, and the New Testament presents it. Just as we have prophecies about all the happenings of the Lord in the Old Testament, this is true for the Divine Ascension as well. The Prophet Ezekiel saw a vision, which certainly refers to Christ’s Ascension: "Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the Cherubim. And the Cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight" (Ezekiel 10:18-19).
Christ’s Ascension is mentioned many times in the New Testament. We should look at this at three particular points:
First, in the teaching of Christ Himself. In His speech to the Disciples before His Passion, He said the following: "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world, Again, I leave the world and go to the Father" (John 16:28). And in another situation, Christ gave assurance: "No one has ascended to heaven but the one who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of man who is in heaven" (John 3:13).
Secondly, we see the Ascension in the stories of the Evangelists, who refer to this Event. Concretely, it is told by the Evangelist Mark (Mark 16:19) and by Saint Luke, both in his Gospel (Luke 24:50-53) and in the Acts of the Apostles, which he himself wrote: (Acts 1:3 and 9-11). The details of the Event of the Ascension and of the way in which it happened are described in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.
Thirdly, there are many Apostolic passages that show the Apostle’s assurance about this Event. Especially in the early Church, the Ascension constituted one of the characteristic points of the Symbols of the baptistries, that is to say, they comprised the confession of faith before the Baptism. The Apostle Paul, referring to the central points of the Divine Economy, also includes the Ascension: "God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by the Angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory" (1 Timothy 3:16). Referring to the power of the Father, he says that it "worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:20). Elsewhere we have said that the power of the Father is also the Son’s power. After Christ cleansed us from sins "he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3), and indeed Christ gave the promise to all who were united with Him that they too would sit on the throne of His Father: "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne" (Revelation 3:21).
From these passages which have been cited it is very clear that the Church attaches great meaning to the Event of the Divine Ascension.
Although many resurrections and ascensions have taken place, we celebrate none of them as we do the Lord’s Resurrection and Ascension, because WE NEITHER HAVE NOR EVER SHALL HAVE ANY SHARE IN THOSE OTHERS. All we gained from them was to be led towards faith in our Savior’s Resurrection and Ascension, in which WE ALL SHARE NOW AND IN THE FUTURE. His Resurrection and Ascension ARE TEH RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF OUR HUMAN NATURE, AND NOT JUST OF OUR HUMAN NATURE, BUT OF EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES IN CHRIST AND SHOWS HIS FAITH IN WORKS (cf. James 2:18). Christ was Unbegotten and Uncreated according to His Divinity and it was for our sake that He became man. He lived as He did because of us, teaching us the path that leads back to True Life. Everything He suffered in the flesh He suffered for us TO HEAL OUR PASSIONS. On account of our sins, He was led to death, and FOR US HE AROSE AND ASCENDED, PREPARING OUR OWN RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION FOR UNENDING ETERNITY. For all the heirs of Everlasting Life as far as possible the pattern of His SAVING WORK ON EARTH.
The Greek word for ‘ASCENSION’ is ‘ANALIPSIS’. This word is used to point to the Ascent of the Godman to heaven where He sits with God the Father. He was always sharing the Throne of His Father, but now He is INCARNATE sharing the Throne. Observing Christ’s Ascension to heaven, WE ARE LOOKING AT A "PECULIAR RACECOURSE", BECAUSE THE CREATOR OF THE WORLD BORNE UP IN A HUMAN CHARIOT (Saint Epiphanios of Cyprus).
Christ IS THE FIRST AND ONLY ONE WHO HAS GONE UP TO HEAVEN WITH THE BODY WHICH HE ASSUMED FROM THE PANAGIA (The All-Holy Virgin and Theotokos). On this subject, we have assurance from Christ Himself Who said: "No one has ascended to heaven but the One Who came down from heaven, the Son of Man Who is in heaven" (John 3:13). The word ‘NO ONE’ does not permit of any doubt, because it came from the undeceitful mouth of the Lord. To be sure, according to the interpretation of the Holy Fathers of the Church, the Panagia (Theotokos) too ASCENDED TO HEAVEN WITH HER BODY, BUT THIS HAPPENED AFTER CHRIST’S ASCENSION, PRECISELY BECAUSE IT WAS FROM HER BODY THAT CHRIST BECAME INCARNATE. But even in this case, the body of the Panagia (Theotokos) receives deification (Theosis), while Christ’s Body IS A SOURCE OF UNCREATED GRACE. [Source: The Feasts of the Lord and St. Gregory Palamas, The Homilies)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine Ascension,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God