The Ascension of Our Lord
/ The Ascension of Our Lord
A Homily by Saint Nicholai


“And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now when it came to pass, 
while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.”

What a majestic and touching departure from earth! There along the edge of the Mount of Olives in the range of the mound beneath which the dead Lazarus again was raised to this transient life, the resurrected Lord was raised into infinite heights of eternal life. He was raise, not to the stars, but rather beyond the stars, He was raised not to the angels, but beyond/above the angels, and not to the highest heavenly powers, but rather beyond them, beyond every immortal heavenly hosts, beyond all angelic and righteous dwelling place in Paradise-far, far even for the eyes of the Cherubim--to the throne of the Heavenly Father itself, to the same mystical/mysterious altar of the Life-giving Trinity.

“And they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.”

They worshipped the all-powerful Lord, both in soul and body, as a sign of respect and obedience. Their worship means:you’re your will be done, all-powerful Lord! And they returned from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, as they were commanded. They did not return in sorrow, but “with great joy.” They would have been sad, had the Lord parted from them in a different manner. But His separation from them was with a new and majestic revelation for them. He did not just vanish from them to an unknown dwelling, but in glory and power was raised to heaven. Thus,, His prophetic words about this event came true visually, just as, before this, even those about His suffering and resurrection came true. And the minds of the disciples were opened by this, that they understand that which He said, “No one has ascended to heaven but He Who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man” (St. John 3:13); and still that which He in the form of a question, said to His disciples (hen they were scandalized from His words about the bread which comes down from heaven: “if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?” (St. John 6:62), and still this: “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; again, I leave the world and go to My Father” (St. John 16:28). Darkness from ignorance pours fear and confusion in the soul of man, but light from knowing the truth pour out joy and creates strength and confidence. The disciples were in fear and confusion when the Lord spoke of His death and resurrection. But when they saw Him resurrected and alive, “they rejoiced.” In fear and confusion they must be disciples again, when the Lord spoke to them of His ascension into heaven and separation from them. But when this happened before their eyes, as it was prophesied, they were filled “with great joy.” Fear was broken, smashed; doubt vanished; confusion fled, and in place of all this came certainty, the most beautiful brilliant certainly--and from such certainty came strength and joy. Now they knew confidently that their Lord and Teacher came down from heaven, for He also ascended into heaven; and that He was sent by the Father, for He returned to the Father; and that He is almighty in heaven as He also was on earth, for the angels accompany Him and fulfill His will. With this reliable knowledge, the incontrovertible faith was now tied; that He will come again, and not just in some manner, but in power and glory, just as He spoke of to them many times, and just as the angels repeated His promises. For them, therefore, now there was nothing left but to carry out His commands zealously in everything. He commanded them to wait in Jerusalem and to await “the power from on high.” With great and complete justified joy, and with the same such great faith, that this “power from on high” come upon them, they returned to Jerusalem.

“And they were continually in the temple passing and blessing God.”

That is, they constantly went into the temple of Jerusalem, and there they praised and blessed God. In another place, it is said: “these all continued with one accord in prayer” (Acts 1:14). After all that they saw and learned, they could not separate their mind and heart anymore from the Lord, who had removed Himself before their eyes, but whom, because of this remained even deeper implanted in their souls. With power and glory, He swelled in their souls, and rejoicing, they praised and blessed God. And thus, He returned to them faster then they expected. He did not return for eyes to see Him, but He returned settling in their souls. But He did not settle in their souls alone, but together with the Father. For the Lord said about him who has love toward Him: “I am My Father will come to him, and make our home with Him” (St. John 14:23). Still it is necessary that the Holy Spirit also come and dwell in them, so that they become perfected men, in whom is renewed the “image and likeness” of the Triune/Trinitarian God. For that they had to wait in Jerusalem. And they awaited and expected. And ten days later, the Holy Spirit, “the power from on high” descended on this, Christ’s first Church, never to be separate from it today until the end of time.

We praise and bless the Lord, who by His ascension opened our minds to see the path and the goal of our life. We praise and bless the Father who to our love for the Son corresponds by His love and dwells together with the Son, and every one of those who keeps and confesses the Lord’s commandments. And let us constantly keep in our minds, the Father and the Son, praising and blessing item – as the apostles somewhere in the city of Jerusalem – waiting, that even on us “the power from on high” descends, the Spirit of the Comforter, who yet during Baptism descended upon all of us, but who of our sins moved away. So that in us the whole original heavenly man be renewed in us, that the glorified and ascended our Lord Jesus Christ bless us, to whom let there be glory and praise with the Father and the Holy Spirit – Trinity one in essence and undivided, now and forever, throughout all time and all eternity! Amen!

 

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Saint Steven's Serbian Orthodox Cathedral
1621 West Garvey Avenue
Alhambra, CA 91803
 

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Saint Steven's Serbian Orthodox Cathedral
1621 West Garvey Avenue
Alhambra, CA 91803

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