“When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.” Luke 24:50-51
The Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ to Heaven on the fortieth day in the Fifty Holy Days. It is one of the Seven Major Feasts of the Lord. On this day, the Lord ascended by His divine power to Heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father with power and glory.
Because in His divinity, He is everywhere, He does not ascend nor descend. Therefore, in the Liturgy of St. Gregory we say “And You ascended into the heavens in the body…” This ascension is evidence that His Glorified Body is not subject to the earth’s gravitational laws. It is also evidence of His Divinity. He ascended before His disciples as they were looking. This scene strengthened their faith because the Lord not only resurrected using His Divine power, but He also ascended into heaven in front of them.
Following His resurrection, the Lord prepared His disciples for the service of preaching. He also taught them about the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. By his resurrection, He gave humanity the most precious spiritual gift – living once more with God. He gave our human nature a spiritual garment to prepare us for the eternal life, free from pains, suffering, and sins of the body. After He revealed the nature of this new body through His frequent appearances, and had guided the disciples in the way of service, He ascended to Heaven, declaring to them their readiness in serving Him. The disciples thereafter prayed and praised God as they waited to receive the Holy Spirit. Consequently, they set out to preach in the Name of Jesus Christ in all the corners of the world.
Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ gives us many blessings. After the sufferings of the Cross, the humiliations and scorn that were there, Jesus Christ ended in glory in the Resurrection and the Ascension and the sitting at the right hand of the Father. The statement, “on the right hand of the Father” means in the power and holiness of the Father. God who fills all does not have a right and a left side like limited beings. However, the right means the power and holiness (Ps. 118:16). So, sitting on the right hand of the Father means ending making Himself of no reputation, and going back to the form of power that He gave up in His Incarnation. The statement “sat” means settled, meaning that He will not go back to being of no reputation again. Therefore, in His second coming He will come in power and great glory (Mt. 25:31).
Let us remember that after the sorrows of the Golgotha, there are the rejoicings of the Resurrection and the glories of the Ascension. Whenever we are surrounded with tribulations, remember there is salvation.
Ascension gives us hope, as Christ ascended with a glorious body, so we also shall have a glorious body (Philippians 3:21). And as a cloud took Him out of the sight of the Apostles in His Ascension, so we also shall come with Him on the clouds on the last day, “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (1 Thess. 3:13) and we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:17)
The Ascension of the Lord implied three promises:
The first promise is the sending of the Holy Spirit to remain with us eternally. He sent to them the Holy Spirit ten days after His Ascension.
The second promise: “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.” (John 14:18) And His word also: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)
The third promise: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” (John 12:32) The Lord has drawn our sights and our hearts to heaven. May our thoughts be always lifted up toward heaven, together with all the desires of our hearts and all our spiritual senses. Saint Paul said: “while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18)
May the blessings of this Holy feast be with us.