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 "ASCEND IN GLORY CHRIST GOD"  

Lambros Skontzos
14 Jun, 2024
"ASCEND IN GLORY CHRIST GOD"

"ASCEND IN GLORY CHRIST GOD"

"ASCEND IN GLORY CHRIST GOD"

Dedication to the feast of the Ascension of the Lord

 

       The feast of the Ascension of our Lord and God Jesus Christ is a joyful celebratory station in the truly joyful resurrection period of our Church. With feelings of jubilation, the Orthodox faithful flood the churches on this holy day to sing thanksgiving odes to our Savior and Redeemer, the Lord, and to praise His holy Ascension into the heavens, from where He agreed to descend, in order to accomplish the saving work of the human race (John 3,13, Philip 2,6-11). We praise His return to the divine throne of His ineffable majesty, at the right hand of God the Father, to Whom will be our great and eternal mediator (2,5 Tim. XNUMX).

       Our Lord Jesus Christ, after His glorious Resurrection from the dead, did not immediately leave the world, but continued for forty days to appear to His disciples (Acts 1,3). These migratory appearances of His to them were of very great importance. It was necessary for the formerly skeptical and fearful disciples to experience the fact of their Master's Resurrection and cast off every hesitation and grain of unbelief about Him. They had to eliminate every trace of a false, petty-nationalistic Jewish conception of the Messiah. To fully realize the universal character of the liberating work of the Saviour, and to forget all thoughts of "resurrection of the royal throne of David" and world domination. His wondrous migratory appearances and the now advanced and spiritual admonitions were an important factor in the formation of a new perception of the divine person of Christ the Redeemer and the saving missionary work that they were commanded by Him to carry out in the future. "He opened their minds, says the evangelist Luke, He read the scriptures to him and told them that thus it is written and thus he saw Christ suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and in his name repentance and forgiveness of sins is preached to all nations, starting from Jerusalem. You are not witnesses of these. And behold, I am sending the promise of my father to you" (Luke 24,45:49-XNUMX). His most hopeful announcement to them was the assurance that "Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Mat.28,20) and "sit in the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high" (Luk.24,49), announcing the epidemic of the Holy Spirit to them and His Church.

       So on the fortieth day, according to the Gospel of Luke, "And he brought them (the disciples) out to Bethany, and through his hands he blessed them. And it happened in the blessed one that he separated them from them and was taken up to heaven. And they, having worshiped him, returned to Jerusalem after great joy and were always in the sanctuary praising and blessing God" (Luke 24,50:53-XNUMX). The evangelist Mark, describing the wonderful and at the same time moving event more succinctly, states that after the explicit mission of the disciples throughout the world preaching and baptizing the nations, "he was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And those who went forward proclaimed everywhere, the Lord's co-worker and the confirming word through the following signs" (Mark 16,19-20).      

       The great event of the Ascension has really huge theological and soteriological parameters for our Church. The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ is undoubtedly the triumphant end of His presence on earth and His redemptive work. "He was taken up in glory” to confirm His divinity to His present disciples. To support them even more in the truly titanic struggle that He assigned them, that is, the continuation of His saving work for the human race.

     It is true that even at this wonderful moment the apostles were not fully aware of their mission. Despite the fact that they had experienced shocking events in the last period, the ungrateful sufferings of their Master and experienced His glorious Resurrection from the dead, they could not unhook themselves from the micro-nationalistic Jewish conception of the Messiah. Therefore they were tempted to inquire from Him, at the moment when He was leaving them for heaven, "Lord, are you restoring the kingdom of Israel at this time?" (Acts 1,6). They did not realize the universality of Jesus' preaching, they did not realize the spiritual universal revolution that He came to bring to humanity, freed from any form of worldly authority, having the character of exclusively ministering to fallen man. They seem to have forgotten their Master's admonition to change their mindset and not think like the ruling world "And you are not like that, but the elder among you will become like the younger, and the abbot like the deacon. Tis gar meizon, the superior or the deacon? Not the next person? I am not among you as a deacon. You are not the sojourners with me in my temptations" (Luke 22,26-27). The example of ministry was mostly given by the Lord Himself, Who did not come into the world "served, but served" (Mark 10,45:XNUMX). With words of tenderness, sympathy and love for them he answered them that "neither of you know times or times that the father placed in his own authority" (Acts 1,7), wanting to establish for them the eternal and saving presence of His Church in the world. What they needed was the power from above and the illumination to be fully initiated into the mystery of the salvation of the world. He gave them the hopeful message that they would receive "the coming power of the Holy Spirit" and thus they will be able to be made "witnesses (of Him) in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1,8).

      The holy author of the book of "Acts of the Apostles" mentions something else very important, describing the miraculous event of the Lord's ascension into heaven. "The vision of these (the disciples) came, and clouds covered him from their eyes. And they were gazing into the sky as he was going, and behold, two men in white robes appeared to them, and the Galilean men said, "What are you looking at in the sky?" This Jesus, who was taken up by you into heaven, thus comes, the way you saw him going into heaven" (Acts 1,9-11). The heavenly messengers of God's will angels were once more among men to confirm the supernatural event of the Ascension and to announce something else: the return of the Lord to earth, which will be as glorious and brilliant as the Ascension , as experienced by the present apostles.

      The Lord Jesus Christ ascended into the heavens, but He did not abandon the human race, for which He shed His holy Blood. He may be seated at the right hand of God in the glorious heavens, but His presence extends to the earth and to the ends of creation. He left His Church on earth, which is the

 His resurrected, incorruptible and deified body itself, to be the means of salvation for all human persons who want to be saved. Mental soul of His body is God the Advocate, "the Spirit of truth" (Jn. 15,26), Who died on the holy day of Pentecost in it, to remain until the end of the world. Salvation is accomplished by the organic aggregation of believers into the theandric Body of Christ. This is what He meant when He promised His disciples: "Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28,20:XNUMX).

      The apostle Paul, wanting to clearly emphasize the fact of Christ's ascension to heaven and His ascension to the throne of God the Father, wrote that He "he is the mediator of a new covenant, just as death occurred in redemption of the transgressions of the first covenant, the promise will be received by those who are called to the eternal inheritance" (Hebrews 9,15). We got her "economy of grace" (Eph. 3,2), as a supreme gift of His exaltation. His glorious throne in the glorious heavens is henceforth the meeting place of God and men, for He Himself assured that "no one comes to the father but through me" (John 14,6).             

     Therefore, in the joyous resurrection period, the great feast of the Ascension appears to make us more happy and to remind us that the glorified return of our Redeemer Christ to the throne of Divinity results in infinite saving gifts for humanity and the entire creation. He, as the glorified God-man, partakes at the same time of the created and the uncreated, thus becoming the saving link between Creator and creatures. This is the essence of salvation and the central meaning of the great feast!                   

 

 

 photo https://zougla.gr 

 

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