By Bishop Gregorios of Mesaoria
Today, the Church commemorates the Christian belief of the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven.
Our Church celebrates the memory of Venerable Hilarion, the Abbot of the Dalmatian Monastery and Saint Attalos the Wonderworker.
During the first Christian centuries, the most sacred feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ was celebrated on a Thursday, the fortieth day of Easter, that is the holy day of Pentecost, since, according to the Bible, Jesus foretold His departure of Christ from Earth into the presence of God promising to send His disciples the Holy Spirit, which will lead them to the full revelation of the Truth. It is considered a Despotic feast day because it refers to Jesus Christ the Despot.
Ascension of the Lord signifies the completion of the plan of the divine economy (i.e. the love and charity of God for man), which aims to the restoration of man to Paradise from where he fell, and the glory of the Risen Christ He who ascended to heaven after having defeated death, is the Son of Man. He is the one who elevated His humanity and His divinity, united in one hypostasis, and gave the opportunity to every person who freely believes the ability to follow Him. This magnificent manifestation of the love of God surprised even the angels, who admired this view. No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the son of man” (John 3:13).
The traditional site of the miraculous ascension is Mount of Olives. Jesus is taken up from the disciples in their sight, a cloud hides him from view. Then, two angels appeared and assured them that “Jesus who have ascended to heaven will come again in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
The departure of Jesus from the earth brought sorrow to His disciples because they would not see Him again. But this sorrow turned into joy, after having blessed them and promised them the coming of the Holy Spirit. After ten days, the coming of the Holy Spirit confirmed that Christ not only abandoned them, but was constantly with them within our Holy Church.
When we recite the Creed, we declare faith in Christ, who “ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father,” and expressing our hope and expectation that “[…] He will come again with glory to judge the living and dead. His kingdom shall have no end.” We actually celebrate the Ascension event.
The blessing of the Church is like the joy of the Apostles which overwhelm our souls awaiting the feast of the Pentecost, the historic day of the coming of the Holy Spirit, in the form of tongues of fire
SOURCE: Church of Cyprus