Daily Reflection May 28th, 2020

Daily Reflection May 28th, 2020

MAY 28 Ascension of the Lord

Only a proud man is always prepared to equate Christ with other great men. However, it is obvious at first glance that great men are one thing and the Lord Christ another, just as creation is one thing and the Creator is another. Christ is not only great but He is the Creator and Source and Inspirer of everything truly great in the history of mankind. While in exile and misery on the island of St. Helena, Napoleon, a man of transient greatness, uttered these words: “Alexander, Caesar, Hannibal, Louis XIV, with all their genius, are nothing. They have conquered the world and were unable to gain one friend. And behold, Christ calls and instantly entire generations are united in a bond closer and stronger than the bond of blood. Christ ignites the fire of love which consumes all egoism and surpasses any kind of love whatever.” (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from Ochrid)

Fr John’s Reflection

Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen. (Luke 24:44-53)

The Ascension of our Lord sometimes is seen as something “in between” Pascha and Pentecost. It falls on a Thursday, it brings to somewhat of an end the Paschal season, even though it is “Pascha” until the celebration of Pentecost. But His Ascension is much more than that. The Incarnation — the “enfleshment” of the Son of God — is the divine nature being united to the human nature He receives from His mother. Our human nature. The Ascension is the human nature taken by our Lord now being united to the divine. When He ascends back to the Father, He takes us with Himself. Earth is united to heaven. Paradise lost has been regained. This makes the spiritual effort of “ascent” a reality; we can live a life united to God Himself and rise above the sin and death of this world by remaining faithful to Him. We can become “like” God because He became one of us and restored human nature to God.

But His Ascension also was important because He could not send the Comforter to the world unless He went back to the Father. This feast falls in the line connecting the Incarnation to the Crucifixion, to the Resurrection, to the Ascension, then finally to the Descent of the Holy Spirit. The Lord ascends so the Spirit can descend. This ascent is the completion of the earthly mission of Christ, but He does not part from His disciples and leave them alone. As a matter of fact, He promises that they will “never be alone.” By going back to the Father, he sends His Spirit to enliven the Church — His Body — which is alive in our midst to this day. We are never alone. There is a sadness to this day as He parts from His disciples. But they leave in joy, gone to “tarry in Jerusalem” until the coming of the Spirit. Their joy was the eternal presence of the Risen Lord, not the absence of their friend. We are called to be joyful and tarry until the celebration of Pentecost when we will once again be recipients of the fire of the Spirit. Let us ascend with Him!