Homily on the Divine Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Part II)

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My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!

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ON THE HOLY FEAST OF THE ASCENSION (Part II)
By Saint Gregory of Nyssa

Perhaps the rest of Psalm 23 is loftier than the Gospel teaching. The Lord's Gospel offers a way of living upon the earth and tells of that return which the noble Prophet sets out upon. Corporeal burdens do not oppress him and has joined himself to the transcendent powers whose voices proclaim to us that the Lord has advanced to His Throne surrounded by the Angels. While present upon the earth they adjured men to enter when saying: "Lift up your ancient gates and be lifted up ancient doors, that the King of Glory may enter" (Psalm 23:7). Because He is present wherever He happens to be and contains everything in Himself, He makes it deserving by receiving it (for not only was He a man among men but had united His own nature with that of the Angels). Therefore the watchmen ask while greeting Him, "Who is the King of Glory?" (Psalm 23:8). They demonstrate their strength and power in warfare because He was about to engage Him Who had taken human nature prisoner and was about to loosen death's bonds; by having destroyed the last enemy (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:26), He might restore mankind to freedom and peace.

Similar voices say (the mystery of death) had already been fulfilled, victory was achieved against the foe, the Cross is raised as a trophy and "He Who has made captivity has ascended on high" (Psalm 67:19) Who has given life, kingdom and these good gifts to men) that once again the transcendent gates are opened for Him. Our guards exchange the escort and ask that the transcendent gates are opened for Him in order that He might be again glorified. But He Who has girded Himself with our life's dirty robe is not recognized because His garments were read from the wine vat of human evils" (cf. Isaiah 63:2). Therefore we have the voice of those attending Him repeat: "Who is this the King of Glory?" (Psalm 23:10). No longer do we have the following response, "He Who is strong and mighty in battle," but "the Lord of Hosts Who has obtained rule over all, has recapitulated everything in Himself, holds primacy in everything (cf. Col. 1:18) and restores creation to its pristine state: He is the King of Glory." See how great is the feast which David has instituted since He united His own grace to the joy of the Church. Let us imitate the Prophet as far as possible in love for God, meekness of life and tolerance towards our enemies. In this way, the Prophet's teaching might guide us to obtain citizenship with God in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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"And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy" (St. Luke 24:50-52). Thus ended our Lord and Savior's time of earthly labor! He suffered much and was greatly glorified. There have never been such sorrows as His sorrows, and there has never been such glory as His Glory. "He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:8-11).

Shall we ever behold this glory of our Lord? We shall behold it, for, in His last, great prayer, the Lord prayed about this to His Father: "I will, He prayed, that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast has given Me" (St. John 17:24). The Angels appeared to the Holy Apostles after the Lord's Ascension, witnessing that the Lord will come to all of us on the last day in the same appearance as the Holy Apostles beheld him ascending into heaven (cf. Acts 1:2). We shall even participate in the glory of the Ascended Lord, if only we do not make ourselves unworthy, for he ascended into Heaven in order to prepare it to receive all His true followers. "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (St. John 14:2-3). The Holy Apostle Paul testifies that this merciful accommodation on our behalf has not changed at all even after the Ascension, when he says that on the last Day of the Lord's Coming, the faithful "shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thess. 4:17). This means something will happen to the faithful which is similar even in appearance to what happened to the Lord Himself n the Mount of Olives. (Source: Homily on the feast of the Ascension of the Lord by Holy Hierarch Innocent (Borisov)

(To be continued)]

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things! -- Saint John Chrysostomos

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

+Father George