Most Reverend Fathers,
Christ has ascended!
For 40 days Christ the Lord appeared to His disciples, convincing them of the reality of His Resurrection. St. Paul the Apostle tells us that the Risen Jesus appeared to Peter and the other Holy Apostles, then to over five hundred believers at once, again to the apostles and St. James, and finally to him as well. St. Luke the Evangelist relates one of these appearances of the Lord, before His Ascension into heaven, when he convinced the apostles that he was not a ghost by eating „a piece of broiled fish” (Lk. 24:42). Then He promised that He would send them the Holy Spirit: „And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk. 24:49). Then He ascended into heaven while blessing them.
The Son of God came down from heaven and took upon Himself our body, and took on all the weakness of the human nature which was separated from God, so that He might heal, repair, and deify that nature. Through the Passion, through death, through Resurrection, the human nature regained „its original beauty” which had been lost through sin. Through His ascension into heaven, Christ raises this human nature, transfigured through the power of the Spirit, into the bosom of the Holy Trinity. Ever since the Lord’s Ascension, one of us human beings dwells in the Holy Trinity. And this ascension toward heaven and dwelling in God becomes the goal of human living. Our life regains meaning through the Resurrection, and our hope is in the life we will live together with Christ the Risen Lord after His Second Coming, but the Lord’s Ascension shows our very own ascension to heaven.
In the Romanian Orthodox Church the Feast of the Lord’s Ascension is also the day we honor all the heroes of our nation—all those who gave their lives for the protection of their fellow man, their ancestral land, and the liberty in which God created us. Just as the Lord ascended into glory, in the same way the souls of the heroes of our nation were raised up into heaven. Their sacrifice made possible liberty, peace, and the establishment of order among the people and in the Church.
On the occasion of this great feast of Orthodoxy, I exhort all the priests and faithful of our Archdiocese to reflect on and teach the significance of this feast day, and the way each of us receives and appropriates this gift of our own ascension resulting from the Lord’s Ascension.
May the Ascended Lord send upon us as well the promise of the Holy Spirit, the Giver of peace and joy.