6th Thursday after Pascha - Ascension
The whole of our faith is Jesus Christ
Two prophesies, one fulfilled, one being fulfilled

2009

 


Icon of the Ascension http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/ascension-01.jpgJust a few quick words about the Ascension today because of the time and people having to work and such. This Ascension can only be spoken of with Pascha and with Pentecost. They are all part of the same ministry.


Our Lord Jesus Christ was born and became a man in every way. The Gospel shows us today He ate; He showed them that He was not a phantom, not a spirit, but a man, after being risen from the dead in the human flesh that He possessed, just as we possess human flesh. He showed us how to live. He made us capable of living. Then He ascended into Heaven. This is our flesh that ascends into Heaven. He shares the same flesh as we do, so therefore this is a prophesy of things to come.


And He had said to His disciples previously, if He did not go away, the Holy Spirit would not come.[1]


And the Holy Spirit is what causes us to be able to know these things, to feel these things, to accomplish these things because the Holy Spirit abides in us and tells us of all things concerning God.[2]


So our salvation is not just a stream of events. It is Jesus Christ[3]. In fact, if one were to describe the Orthodox faith, one need only say “Jesus Christ.” The whole of our faith is our Lord Jesus Christ. Truth is Jesus Christ. Holiness is Jesus Christ, and peace is Jesus Christ. And this peace that He bestowed upon apostles is peace is accomplished from our flesh becoming purified and deified and perfected. And today we see what happens to perfected flesh. It arises and sits at the right hand of the Father.


So this is our destiny, brothers and sisters, if we are willing to accept it. All we need do is believe and struggle, and God will help us. This is what the Ascension tells us today.


But just like everything in life, when the Lord said “Peace”[4] to them, they were not peaceful at that time, or during those ten days before Pentecost. There were many times during their life when they were not peaceful. So the peace that comes to us, comes in stages, comes bit by bit by our struggles. That’s the way it is with everyone. It’s not some sort of magical wand that the Lord waves over us. He enables us, makes us capable, and then we accomplish with His help.

So, brothers and sisters, if we are like the men of Galilee gazing into the Heavens[5], let’s not gaze just with confusion because now we know the full story. When we gaze into the Heavens, we see our destiny if we are willing to accomplish it. And all things can be accomplished through Christ.


May God help us to accomplish this destiny, to ascend into the Heavens and to be with God, in our flesh as Jesus Christ is with God in the flesh. God bless you.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009    

Transcribed by the hand of Helen; may God save her and her loved ones. Slight changes from the audio version.

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This homily is at:

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http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pascha-thursday-06_2009-05-28+ascension.doc

Audio: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pascha-thursday-06_2009-05-28+ascension.mp3

 

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[1] “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7)

 

Previous to this saying, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come, and the Evangelist John parenthetically explains that He would come after Jesus was glorified (ascended into heaven): “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  (38)  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.  (39)  (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37-39 KJV)

 

Here is another promise: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26)

 

[2] Here is one of the best explanations of the ministry of the Holy Spirit: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  (8)  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  (9)  Of sin, because they believe not on me;  (10)  Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;  (11)  Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.  (12)  I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.  (13)  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.  (14)  He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.  (15)  All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:7-15 KJV )

 

[3] Jesus Christ is our example of how to live. He made us capable of living according to His example, but his death, resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit. He made it clear that He is the only way to the father. Since He came to show us the way to perfection, following Him is paramount.

 

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (7)  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7 KJV)

 

[4] “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19 KJV)

 

[5] “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.  (10)  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;  (11)  Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11 KJV) Acts 1:1-12 is read at liturgy on the Ascension.