Παρασκευή, 26 Μαΐου 2017

The Holy Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: Through Christ, man becomes a "partaker of Divine Nature"


Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia and Malawi
 
My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

The Holy Feast-Day of the Ascension of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ is celebrated each year on the fortieth (40) day after the Great and All-Holy Feast of Pascha (Day of the Resurrection). Since the date of Pascha changes each year, the date of the Feast of the Ascension changes. The Feast is always celebrated on a Thursday.
The Feast itself commemorates when, on the fortieth day after the Resurrection, Jesus led His holy Disciples to the Mount of Olives, and after blessing them and asking them to wait for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, He ascended into heaven.
The story of the Ascension of our Lord, celebrated as one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church, is found in the book of the Acts of the Apostles (1:3-11). It is also mentioned in the Gospels of Saints Mark (16:19) and Luke (24:50-53). The moment of the Ascension is told in one sentence: "He was lifted up before their eyes in a cloud which took Him from their sight" (Acts 1:9).
Christ made His last appearance on earth, forty days after His Resurrection from the dead. The Acts of the Apostles states that the disciples were in Jerusalem. Jesus appeared before them and commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the "Promise of the Father". He stated, "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (Acts 1:5).
After Jesus gave these instructions, He led the disciples to the Mount of Olives. Here, He commissioned them to be His witnesses "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). It is also at this time that the disciples were directed by Christ to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (St. Matthew 18:19). Jesus also told them that He would be with them always, "even to the end of the world" (St. Matthew 28:20).

As the disciples watched, Jesus lifted up His hands, blessed them, and then was taken up out of their sight (St. Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9). Two Angels appeared to them and asked them why they were gazing into heaven. Then one of the Angels said, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall come in like manner as you have seen Him going into Heaven" (Acts 1:11). 

THE MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE OF ASCENSION

For forty days after His Resurrection, Our Lord Jesus Christ remained on earth. Filled with the glory and honor of His Divinity, He appeared to His Disciples at various times and places. By eating and drinking with His disciples and conversing with them about the Kingdom of God, our Lord Jesus Christ assured them that He was Truly alive in His Risen and glorified Body. (The glorification of Jesus refers to His Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven. When we speak of Christ's glorified Body, we refer to Its honor, splendor, majesty and visible radiance - it gave off rays of bright Light!).
The time span of forty days (40) is used symbolically in the Holy Scripture and by the Church indicate that an appropriate amount of time has passed for "COMPLETENESS". [The rains of the Great Flood lasted for forty days. Christ prayed in the wilderness for forty days. We fast for forty days to prepare before the feasts of the Holy Nativity and the Resurrection (Pascha).
The Ascension is a sign and symbol of the Second Coming of Christ and the Final Judgment. Christ will return to the earth in the same manner as He left it. When the Risen Lord returns again in glory, God's will for mankind will be fulfilled.
Jesus Christ completed His earthly mission of bringing salvation to all people and physically was lifted up from the world into heaven. The meaning of the fullness of Christ's Resurrection is given in the Ascension. Having completed His mission in the world as the Savior, He returned to the Father in Heaven Who sent Him into the world. In ascending to the Father, He raises earth to Heaven with Him!

Photo from Orthodox Christian Baptism in Rwanda, 20 May 2017 (more here)

The Symbol of Faith - the Nicene Creed - which summarizes the important doctrines and teachings of the Orthodox Christian Church, contains these words: "And ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father." The importance and meaning of this Holy Feast is that Jesus Christ glorified our fallen and sinful humanity when He returned to the Father. In Jesus, Who is perfect God and perfect man, man is reunited with God. At His birth, Jesus took on our human nature (Incarnation). Through His Ascension He deified this human nature by taking His Body to heaven and giving it a place of honor at the right hand of the Father. With Christ, man's nature also ascends. Through Christ, man becomes a "partaker of Divine Nature" (II Peter 1:4). When Christ became man, He took up human nature and we share our human nature with Him. It is through Christ, Who is perfect God and perfect man, that we "partake of Divine Nature". When we say that Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father, we mean that man has been restored to communion with God because Christ gives His humanity--which He shares with us--a permanent place of honor in Heaven. Christ honors us by putting us close to the Father.
We celebrate the Holy Ascension with the same great joy the holy Apostles had when they were promised that the Holy Spirit would come to bear witness to the presence of Christ in the Church. Holy Ascension Day is joyful, not only because Christ is Glorified, but also because we are glorified with Him. We are joyful because He goes to "prepare a place" for us and because He is forever present before the Father to interceded for us. 

MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.


The parish of Twelve Apostles of Rwamagana in Eastern Province of Rwanda, has celebrated the Feast of Holy Ascension (from here & here)

Please, see also

Theosis, St. Silouan and Elder Sophrony
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life 
"Partakers of Divine Nature" - About Deification & Uncreated Light in Orthodox Church
 

 

A voice from Orthodox Christian Africa: "The hopeful message of Resurrection: with power, solidarity with fellow human beings, faith and optimism, we will find the way out of the terrible ordeal!"

 
Kristo Amefufukka! Kweli Amefufukka! / Christus het opgestaan! Hy het waarlik opgestaan! / Christ is Risen from Africa! Truly is risen!

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