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2014-05-25 message

posted Jun 30, 2014, 4:34 PM by St. John's Webmaster   [ updated Jun 30, 2014, 4:34 PM ]

When we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen, we read from the book of Acts the story of his martyrdom. Towards the end, St. Stephen says, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God." We should stop and consider that statement. St. Stephen does not say that the Son of God, or the Word of God, or the Wisdom of God is seated at the Father’s right hand. That would not have been wrong, but it would not have been such a powerful and scandalous statement. But he says that it is the “Son of man” Who is seated there. A person with a human nature is seated at the right hand of God; so has human nature been exalted at the Ascension of our Lord.

This is our celebration this coming Thursday. Jesus Christ, fully divine and fully human is taken up into heaven and sits at the right of the Father. Through the union of divine and human in His person, we, human beings, can now attain to majesty and beauty formerly not even thinkable. This is the wonder of the feast, an event which properly calls us to contemplation and thanksgiving.

At Vespers we will sing, “The Lord was taken up to heaven, in order to send the Holy Spirit to the world. The heavens prepared His throne; the clouds were the means of His approach. Angels marvel, seeing a human being higher than themselves. The Father receives Him whom He has coeternal in His bosom. The Holy Spirit gives the order to all His Angels, "Lift up the gates, O you rulers." Oh, clap your hands, all you nations! For Christ has ascended to where He was before.”

Let us prepare for the feast by reading the Scripture and the hymns of the feast, and let us be guided by them into the mystery of the person of Christ and of everything that God has done for our salvation.

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter