The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ (2014)

The Feast of the Ascension of our Lord commemorates the events described in Acts 1:1-12.

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away;

The theme hymn (Troparion) for the Feast reads:

O Christ God, You have ascended in Glory,

Granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit.

Through the blessing they were assured

That You are the Son of God,

The Redeemer of the world!

St. Silouan the Athonite  (d. 1938AD) says:

“Since the days of my youth I have loved to reflect: The Lord ascended into heaven and awaits our coming; but to be with the Lord we must be like Him, or like little children – lowly and meek – and we must serve Him.  Then, according to the words of the Lord, ‘Where I am, there shall also my servant be’ (John 12:26) – we, too, shall be with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven.   . . . O, who shall sing me the song that I have loved since the days of my youth – the song of the Lord’s ascension into heaven, of His love for us, of the vigil He keeps for our coming?  To this song would I hearken with tears, for my soul wearies on earth.

What has befallen me?  How came I to lose joy, and shall I attain to that joy again?

Weep with me, all ye wild beasts and birds.  Weep with me, forest and desert.  Weep with me, every creature created of God, and comfort me in my grief and sorrow.

In this wise I reflect in my soul: if I who love God so little am so violently heartsick for the Lord, how exceeding great must have been the grief of the Mother of God when she was left on earth after the Ascension of her Lord.  . . .

We cannot fathom the depth of the love of the Mother of God, but we know:

The greater the love, the greater the suffering of the soul.

The fuller the love, the fuller the knowledge of God.

The more ardent the love, the more fervent the prayer.

The more perfect the love, the holier the life.”

(Archimandrite Sophrony, ST SILOUAN THE ATHONITE, pp 365-366)

The Kontakion of the Feast:

When You did fulfill the dispensation for our sake,

And unite earth to Heaven:

You did ascend in glory, O Christ our God,

Not being parted from those who love You,

But remaining with them and crying:

I am with you and no one will be against you.