May Pastoral Message

The Ascension of Christ

By:  Fr. Nicholas V. Gamvas

“Wait in the city until you receive power from on high. He blessed them, was parted from them and was carried into heaven” Luke 24:49,51

The Ascension of Jesus Christ is critical to the life — belief — and work of the Christian community! To better understand our Gospel, we need to first place it in context with what happened earlier in the Upper Room. The disciples were terrified and afraid when they saw him and he tried to calm their fears, saying: “Peace be with you.” He then asked, “why are you troubled?” Jesus in, this brief  encounter, he is indeed real! The Jesus who died on the earlier Friday was, in truth, the Risen Christ. Christianity is not founded on dreams of disordered people. It is historically grounded on the conquest of death and on a proven resurrection. Belief is essential to the Christian faith. Why, then, are we so often troubled even as we build our belief in the knowledge of Christ’s resurrection and ascension? The answer is often found in how much we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives and set us free for discipleship.  St Basil The Great  said:  ”there is a time to wait on God… and a time to work for God.” We need to discern this time, because action without preparation most often fails. Before we act for God… we need to be patient… in prayer…seeking wisdom …listening…experiencing the power of his Holy Spirit moving within us…preparing our hearts and mind for action. It is then that we are prepared to move forth with the praise and joy that comes in knowing Jesus Christ as personal Savior and the ascending Redeemer!

The Holy Spirit has empowered us to be his witnesses. We have waited and if we have listened we are ready to share him with others in the same love in which he has shared himself with us. In waiting we have a moment “been with God.”

Paul brings home clearly to the church at Ephesus the impact of Christ’s ascension to be with His Father. Paul talks about God placing all things at Christ’s feet and that He is to be the head of the church… and that church is to be His body.

The church is to have the power of the Holy Spirit and it will transcend itself heart and mind to be the driving force that gives us wisdom and revelation. It is this wisdom and revelation that the church today grows as a witness to that power which manifested through discipleship. It is a commitment that reached out to challenge the generations of people who have grown indifferent to His love and compassion for children of all ages, races, and gender.

Finally, the Ascension gave the disciples the certainty that they had a friend, both in heaven and on earth, who loved them at a level, which transcended all pain, all sin, all loneliness. This is a miraculous love that heals relationships and binds together those of us in community who see things differently but focus on Christ and His power to love the unlovable.

When Jesus ascended into heaven to be with his Father, He left the church with us. We are His body. He is counting on us! There is no alternate plan. Either as believers we share the word of the Risen Lord, the Ascended Christ, or we fail His call to be disciples to the world. At Baptism we made a covenant with God. Today we need to ask ourselves are we still in covenant with Him. If the answer is yes – then we are His, in  our actions! If the answer is no – then we need to pray for the renewal of our faith.