Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ascension Day!

Lift up your heads, O gates,
  And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
  That the King of glory may come in! 
  Who is the King of glory?
  The LORD strong and mighty,
  The LORD mighty in battle. 
  Lift up your heads, O gates,
  And lift them up, O ancient doors,
  That the King of glory may come in! 
  Who is this King of glory?
  The LORD of hosts,

He is the King of glory. Selah.

-Psalm 24: 7-10

When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He brought our human nature with him into the Presence of the Father. I've been reading along in 1 Samuel with the St. James Devotional Guide, reading about when the Philistines captured the ark of the Lord and put it in the temple of their god, Dagon. Dagon, of course, fell down and lost its hands and head before the ark of the Lord. Fr. Reardon comments:

The triumph of the “defeated” Ark within Philistia was a prophecy of the victory of “defeated” Jesus over the forces of the nether world. Like the Philistines, Death had swallowed what it could not digest. St. John Chrysostom said it best: “The Savior's death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh . . .. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven.”

Thus, then, the death of Christ. Then, in the next day's entry, commenting on Psalm 47, Fr. Reardon says:

We have been redeemed and justified by Jesus, our High Priest, not only by the shedding of His blood, but also by the power of His glorification over death, because He “was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the Cross, by which He ransomed us and paid the purchase of our souls, was completed, fulfilled, brought to perfection by His Resurrection and entrance into the heavenly holy of holies, that place “behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6:19, 20).

The Ascension of Christ is not, then, an afterthought, a sort of postlude to salvation. It is not merely an appropriate but optional parade celebrated in consequence of the victory. It is an integral part of the triumph itself; or more properly, it is the crowning moment of the Lord’s priestly offering. 

I'd encourage you to go and read Fr. Reardon's entire meditation here, under the May 13 entry.

Happy Ascension Day, friends!

peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

1 comment:

Amy said...

I've been trying to understand more what this day means. Thanks for your thoughts.