Brothers and sisters, on Thursday the Holy Orthodox Church celebrated the ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On the 40th day after Pascha our Lord stood on the Mount of Olives as he had done so many times during his earthly ministry.
Like so many times before he was surrounded by his disciples and the Lord was instructing them, comforting them and strengthening them in the faith. When he had comforted them like a loving Father he opened their understanding of the Holy Scriptures.
This is something we can relate to, because it is impossible to read and comprehend the Holy Scriptures if our heart is in turmoil. This is why the priest prays that the Lord opens up our hearts to the understanding of the reading of the Holy Gospel every Sunday. Yet this day was different from others because on this day the Lord would have to leave his small flock and the hearts of the apostles was filled with sadness. No longer would they be able to walk with their Lord. No longer would they hear His voice. No longer would they physically see him. No longer would He be physically present to them.
Yet, sadness was not the only thing that the Apostles felt on this day. They also felt joy. They felt joy because the Christ had Risen from the Dead. They felt joy because they knew that He was the Son of the Living God. They felt joy because their spiritual eyes were open, and they felt joy because the Lord promised to send the Comforter the Spirit of Truth, the promise of the Father, the Holy and Life Creating Spirit which would clothe them with power from on high and make their very bodies a temple of the Living God.
Finally having given the disciples his blessing the Christ ascended into the heavens. Although the disciples have seen the Lord perform many miracles they had to have been amazed at the wondrous sight of their teacher being taken up on the clouds. Than two angels came to them and talked of the day the Lord would return. They said that Christ who was taken up into the Heavens would return in very much the same way. In fact the Icon of the Ascension are often also referred to as the icons of the Second Coming for as the Lord went up into Heavens so shall he return in Glory to Judge the Living and the Dead.
Today we rejoice with the disciples for we know that on the day of the Pentecost we to shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We to shall receive the comforter from on high. We too, with the disciples will receive the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our very bodies will become the Temple of God. How great are the works of the Lord who turns weakness into strength! How great are the works of the Lord who makes Apostles and Pillars of the Church out common men very much like us. How great are the works of the Lord who suffered the Passion for us, who was Crucified for us and who arouse from the dead for our sake.
Blessed is the Lord who pours the Spirit out upon us. Blessed is He who gives us spiritual armor which defends us from enemies visible and invisible. Blessed is He who having both Human and Divine nature ascended to Heaven giving humanity a place on the right hand of God the Father Himself!
Let us pray today that we become like the holy Apostles abiding continually in holiness and receive the Holy Spirit on the day of the Pentecost!
Fr. Borislav Kroner
St. Michael Parish, Woonsocket, RI