GOSPEL MESSAGE & RECORDING
Rev. Fr. Gheevarghese John
The Feast of Ascension is the fortieth day after Resurrection Sunday, commemorating the Ascension of Christ into heaven, according to Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:2. The word Ascension in Greek (analeptics) means, “lifting up.” It is the event that signifies Christ ascending to heaven to be seated at the right hand of God the Father in power and glory, completing the plan of salvation. Generally speaking, in Orthodoxy, the greater emphasize is on "the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ," leaving the Ascension with lesser importance within the minds of the faithful. This is only natural, since the hard work of fasting and extensive praying ends with the Feast of the Resurrection. Nevertheless, as stated earlier, it is the Ascension that completes the plan of salvation; and therefore, for the Church, it is of equal importance.
I have often wondered why the faithful deemphasize the Ascension. Taking it at "face value”--its Jesus going back to heaven. There is no great passion (like the Cross) or revelation (like the Resurrection and the empty tomb). Simply put the drama is not there. But a closer examination leads us to understand that it is more than just a "lifting up." The greater importance is not that Jesus ascended, but rather that he is "enthroned." That is, He ascended to take His seat as King at right hand of God the Father. (Mark 14:62) And as the King He operates with all authority and power on behalf of his people (we who believe in Him). It is because of this we have a great Intercessor before the Father, so that we may boldly go before the throne of Christ and bring before Him our needs and desires. (1 Timothy 2:5)
The Kingship of Christ means that He has a kingdom, and in that kingdom we are His sons and daughter. (2 Corinthians 6:18) We don’t go “crawling” or “begging,” as though we are outsiders, but with “boldness” and “confidence,” knowing that He said, “knock and the door shall be open to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be open to you.” (Matthew. 7:7) He is therefore a King willing to meet us at the time of our need. What are you needs? What are the troubles you are going through? What setbacks have you recently experienced? The King has the solution and answer to all your problems! All you have to do is ask. As sons and daughters of the King remember that you can go before Jesus with “bold confidence” (as we say in the Divine Liturgy before the Our Father) and lay down our burdens and receive from Him the grace and mercy that we need in our lives