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Major Orthodox Feasts: Holy Ascension of the Lord


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The Ascension of the Lord (Mark 16:15-19; Luke 24:46-53; Acts 1:2; 4-26)


One of the great feasts of the Orthodox Church, The Ascension of The Lord is celebrated 40 days after Easter, on a Thursday.
Forty days after being resurrected, Jesus rose to the right hand of God after blessing his disciples. In the Gospel of Mark (16:14-19), he explains that Jesus and his eleven disciples are seated in Jerusalem, and Jesus tells his disciples to spread the Gospel. Those that believe in the Word will be protected against sickness, have healing abilities, etc. Afterwards, Jesus is risen to be at the right hand of the Holy Father. The Gospel of Luke (24:50-51) states that Jesus led the eleven disciples to Bethany, and rose to Heaven while blessing them.

The most popular account of the Ascension of Jesus is in the Acts of the Apostles (1:9-12). Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus continued to teach about the Gospel. Jesus and the eleven disciples were gathered near the Mount of Olives (Mt. Olivet, in the northeast of Bethany. Jesus tells his disciples that they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit and that they should spread His message unto the world. Some say he was brought up to Heaven by a cloud. Other traditions say Jesus was brought up by a Chariot like the Prophet Elijah. Two men clothed in white come over and tell the disciples that Jesus would return in the same manner as he was taken. They say: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, Who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven" (Acts 1:11). The Gospel of Matthew ends at a Mountain in Galilee, with Jesus commanding the disciples to spread the Gospel, but there is no mention of the Ascension. The Ascension marked the end of his physical presence with his disciples, but marked the beginning of the union of God and man when Jesus rose to be at the right hand of God. This shows the final stage in God's plan to unite Mankind with God upon the departure of this world.

Troparion of the Feast (Tone 4) :


O Christ God, You have ascended in Glory,
Granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Through the blessing they were assured
That You are the Son of God,
The Redeemer of the world!


Kontakion (Tone 6):


When You did fulfill the dispensation for our sake,
And unite earth to Heaven:
You did ascend in glory, O Christ our God,
Not being parted from those who love You,
But remaining with them and crying:
I am with you and no one will be against you.

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