Most Reverend Fathers,
Christ is Ascended!
For 40 days we have witnessed Christ's Resurrection, each one of us seeking his own sense of this witness. By this we have fulfilled the word of the Risen Christ who sends His disciples to preach the Gospel after had He rebuked them for their lack of faith in the Resurrection: Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned. (Mark 16:14-16).
The Holy Apostles had received the news of the Resurrection from the myrrh-bearing women, Mary Magdalene and the two disciples, Luke and Cleopas, who were traveling to Emmaus, according to St. Mark's account. But they did not believe because of the hardness of their heart. We still see those hardened hearts that will not receive the news of the Resurrection and believe those who bring it. But Christ Himself asks us to fulfill this proclamation and confession, for the salvation or damnation of our brothers depends on it. We are forever responsible for their fate, and this fate is determined by the way in which each one of us relates to the Resurrection.
Prior to His Ascension to heaven, Christ tells them about the power that comes from receiving the proclamation of the Resurrection: And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God (Mark 16:17-19). The power of the Resurrection will work through those who believe in it and preach it. It is the power of God that defeats the power of the evil one and brings healing to the sick. It is a direct and clear affirmation of the power of Christ's Resurrection which is already working in the world, in those who believe and confess.
The period of the 40 days after Easter, along with the 10 days of awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit, is a time of faith in the Resurrection and witness to it. It is not sufficient to believe and confess only deep in our soul, in our family, and in our Christian community. We must proclaim to everyone the opportunity for salvation through faith in the Resurrection. The words of our Savior Jesus Christ make us responsible for each other. Through our word and witness others may find the way to salvation. And during these days, our word and testimony are infused with the power of the Resurrection.
Let us all receive this news and spread it around with the Christian consciousness of responsibility for our neighbor!