01 May 2008

Christ has Ascended...From Earth to Heaven!

By going up again into heaven from which you had descended, you did not leave us orphans, O Lord. Show to all your people the works of your power, that your Spirit may come down up on us and bring peace to the world, O Lord and Lover of us all.
(Eastern Hymn, Tone 1)

What was the last thing Jesus said to His disciples?

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:14-19)

"Show to all Your people the works of Your power," the Eastern Christian hymn asks. Jesus promised this power after the coming of the Holy Spirit. Some gifts and authority were given directly to the Apostles and their successors, but here we see the last thing that Jesus said: "...these signs will follow those who believe: In My Name..."

He who believes and is baptized will be saved, AND signs will follow. St. Cyril of Jerusalem told his fourth century catechumens:

But if you approach [baptism] with faith, though men minister in what is seen, the Holy Spirit bestows that which is unseen. You are coming to a great trial, to a great muster in that one hour, which if you throw away, your disaster is irretrievable; but if you be counted worthy of the grace, your soul will be enlightened, you will receive a power which you had not, you will receive weapons terrible to the evil spirits; and if you cast not away your arms, but keep the Seal upon your soul, no evil spirit will approach you; for he will be subdued; for verily by the Spirit of God are the evil spirits cast out.

If you believe, you shall not only receive remission of sins, but also do things which pass man’s power. And may you be worthy of the gift of prophecy also! For you shall receive grace according to the measure of your capacity and not of my words; for I may possibly speak of but small things, yet you may receive greater; since faith is a large affair.
We are not orphans. We are more than conquerers!

P.S. Don't forget, today is the beginning of the Pentecost Novena!

No comments: