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!
HOMILY ON THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD
By Holy Hierarch Innocent (Borisov)
Our path, brothers and sisters, by which we, too, can attain the heights of holy glory, is the same path by which our Lord ascended in glory; that is, the way of the Cross, the way of purification, self-denial, the way of exterior and interior sufferings. Will we remember this? And in remembering it, will we travel Christ's path to Heaven?
If the Mount Tabor of earthly happiness uplifts you, brothers and sisters, over everything earthly, and brings you closer to Heaven, then remain upon it! The ascended Lord blesses your heights. Only take care not to fall into slumber on that Mountain Tabor, and when Moses and Elias speak of the cross on which you must crucify your "old man." Don't start muttering about building not one, but three tabernacles for that man. Remember, that the way to Heaven is not from Tabor, but from Olivet; and to get to Olivet you have to go through Gethsemane and Golgotha.
The Lord's path should be the path of each and every one of us. The Lord suffered for all of us equally; the Heavens have opened also to all of us equally. Thus, I ask each and every one of you: can we point to very many things in our lives and say that they were done, or not done, by us because we are predestined for Heaven; because, someday, we should be with our Lord in Heaven? Have we abstained at least once from sin, have we done even one good deed with the thought that the Lord sees us from the Heavens? However small this question may seem, there could scarcely be found amongst us people who answer it in the affirmative. What is the meaning of our faith in the Ascended Lord? Do we believe in Him, or not? If we believe in Him, then where are our works? If we do not believe in Him, then why do we bear His Name? Whoever truly believes in His heavenly calling cannot be earthly; if He has this conviction it will of necessity be the source which inspires all his thoughts and feelings, his whole life, and all his relationships. In all the circumstances of his life, and in every situation, the True Christian remembers that he is an heir to Heaven, the co-inheritor of Christ, and he acts in accordance with his calling. In looking at his life, any such person can see that he does not live so much for the present and temporal as for the future and eternal; that his heart is somewhere far away, not in this world, and that his life is hidden in the heights, in God. This is how Christians once seemed to the pagans.
But is there very much of this in us, brothers and sisters? Is there at least something unearthly, Heavenly, and Christ-like in us? If there is, then we are like the Apostles and can return to our own homes from the Mount of Olives with joy. The blessing of the ascended Lord belongs to us in this case, just as does the promise of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit descends, it will not pass by those who belong to Christ.
Otherwise, the Angel's reproach against the Apostles at the Lord's Ascension applies to us with even greater force. I say, with greater force, for to them was said, "Why stand ye gazing into heaven? (Acts 1:11) only because they, out of their love and zeal, gazed for a long time at the heavens which received their Lord and Teacher. Something else needs to be said to us: Sons of men, why stand ye gazing not at heaven, but at the earth? Turn your eyes to Heaven, and behold our Savior, Who has long been looking at you. Enter upon the path to Heaven which long lay before you; cast off the crushing weight of sin that you may travel it lightly, receive the cross into your hands and go to your Savior while He blesses you for this path, before the doors of Heaven close. Meanwhile, the Angels, both Heavenly and earthly, invite you to the habitations of the Heavenly Father.
We hear your voice, ye blessed dwellers of Heaven, and want to step upon the path of the Lord; only strengthen us and accompany us with your help. Ever more so--Thou Thyself, O Merciful Savior, and Lord do not abandon us who are orphans in spirit and infirm. Look down from the Heavens upon our good intentions and upon our infirmity, watch over us and bless us for Thy path; clothe us with power from on high, and make firm our wavering steps until we come to Thy holy mountain, and unite with Thee. Amen. (Translated by Nun Cornelia (Rees)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in Our Resurrected God and Savior,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God