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The Ascension

Sunday, May 17, 2015
“As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. They were still staring into the sky as he went, when suddenly two men in white were standing beside them, and they said, 'Why are you Galileans standing here looking into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way as you have seen him go to heaven'” (Acts 1:9-11).

When a famous Russian orthodox priest, Alexander Men, was asked about his opinion on the most important sentence in the Gospel, he pointed to the words of Jesus: “Look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time”. Jesus’s promise means that Christianity is not only a new religion, or new teaching with moral tips on how to live. Christianity is not only a set of doctrines, dogmas, liturgical rules and canonical law. Christianity is the real presence of Jesus who remains with his disciples. He is with us “to the end of time”. These words express a radical faithfulness of God’s promise. The Lord never abandons his people. The feast of the Ascension reminds us that we are invited to deeper unity and communion with God. Indeed, the historical mission of Jesus has finished and he has returned to his Father. Since that moment the Holy Spirit has started his mission in a special way. The experience of the living God, His death, and resurrection for the sake of our salvation, which has affected just a small group of people, can now spread over the world.

Just as at the moment of Jesus’s birth and resurrection there were angels present, here again we hear them. “Why are you Galileans standing here looking into the sky?” These words describe our attitude to God. We are on earth looking into the sky. We look into the sky from our individual places, histories, our occupations and our relationships. But this looking into the sky gives us strength and power to stand on earth. This is the truth about Christians. We cannot be limited to our earthly existence. But we also cannot just look into the sky. We have to be involved in this world but as a people who have experienced the living God, a people full of his Holy Spirit.  


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