Holy Ascension of our Lord – Swargarohana Perrunnal – Suloqo

Published by Jacob P Varghese on

Thou hast Ascended in glory, O Christ our God,
Granting joy to Thy disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Through the blessing they were assured
That Thou art the Son of God,
The Redeemer of the world!

The Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven is one of the most important events recorded in the New Testament. The Feast of the Ascension is one of the most significant days in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar. It celebrates Christ’s return to the Father (John 16: 28) on the fortieth day or sixth Thursday, after His Resurrection (Acts 1: 1-11, Luke 24: 50-51 and Mark 16:19). Jesus appeared at different times and places to His people, assuring them that it was He, truly alive is risen and glorified body. The Lord taught them about the mysteries of the Kingdom of God and prepared His disciples for the service of preaching. He gave humanity the most precious spiritual gift, living once more with God and gave our human nature a spiritual garment to prepare us for the eternal life. On the fortieth day after His Passover, Jesus ascended into heaven by His divine power and glory and seated on the right hand of God. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy (Lk. 24: 50–52).

This feast occupies a vital place in Scripture, as well as Liturgical life. We call it Feast of Ascension (Swargarohana Perrunnal/ Suloqo), but it does not get a lot of attention today. We focus more on the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. But the Ascension of Jesus Christ is pivotal. On the Feast of the Ascension, the Orthodox Church does not merely commemorate an historical event in the life of Christ, but on this day, the Church celebrates Christ’s physical departure from the earth and His glorification with God the Father. Lord Jesus declared to be in heaven at the right hand of the Father in the place of glory, power, authority, and provision for us. Just as Prophet Elisha, received the Prophet Elijah mantle as he witnessed the latter being taken into to heaven in Chariot of fire. The disciples, who witnessed our Lord’s Ascension into heaven, received His blessings and the gift of Holy Spirit.

The Ascension of Christ Himself was part of His plan for our ascension as well. He ascended to prepare a place for us in His Kingdom. He ASCENDED with our human body to give us the ability to ASCEND as well. He ascended so He may seat us and glorify us with Him. He ascended with our human body to give us the ability to ascend as well. St. John Chrysostom in one of his homilies says to us, “If you want to find out how great man is, do not look towards the palaces of kings or the seats of the mighty, raise your gaze towards the throne of God and you will see sitting at the right of power a Man, Jesus Christ.” 

The Lord spoke three promises regarding His Ascension. “I tell you the truth: ……………………. for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (Jn. 16:7). “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you” (Jn. 14: 18). “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself” (Jn. 12: 32). For this reason, Holy Ascension Day is joyful, because Christ is glorified, and 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 intercede for us. Even though Jesus decided to physically leave this world He did not forget His mission, Hence the promise – “I WILL RETURN“; and `I am going to prepare place for you’. Angels appeared and encouraged the gazed disciples with the blessed assurance of His Second Coming, which imbued joy in the hearts of disciples. The disciples themselves “were gazing up toward heaven” (Acts 1: 10). Our thoughts have been directed to Heaven, and our goal is to live with Christ in His Kingdom.

The Ascension of Jesus Christ is a sign, symbol, and assurance, as well as a matter of hope and belief of His Second Coming for the Christendom. Christ will return to the earth in the same manner as He left it. Apostles passionately believed and attested the Ascension and promise of the Second Coming. “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” 1 Cor 11:26. “He will appear for a second time,” Heb. 9: 28. When the risen Lord returns in glory, God’s will for mankind will be fulfilled. Ascension is also a sign of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Spirit comes to reconcile and reunite the world with God. Christ’s Body is in heaven and His Spirit is here on earth.

St. Cyril is telling us that the even the Ascension of Christ was done for you and me. By Christ, you and I can now also have a place in heaven. The Ascension should be a decision to dedicate the rest of our life growing and going up in gratitude of Lord’s mercy.

As Jesus decided to live eternally with God the Father after His Resurrection, we should also dedicate our lives to that God who saved us from death. The Holy Communion which we receive is a source of resurrection when Thy body and blood renews us in Lord’s spirit. The Ascension is a decision to dedicate the rest of our life growing and going up in gratitude of Lord’s mercy.

It is for this very reason the Church has the believer recite the Orthodox Nicene Creed daily and say, “who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary and became man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and on the third day He rose from the dead, according to the Scriptures, Ascended into the heavens, He is seated at the right hand of His Father.” All for us men and for our salvation!

1 Comment

Beena John · May 8, 2024 at 1:00 pm

Praising orthodoxy

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