The Sixth Week of Holy Fifties
Christ is the First Born, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life
The Glorious Feast of the Ascension
The forty days are concluded by Thursday’s readings of the ascension. The readings for the fifth Sunday present a theological standpoint of the ascension of the Lord Christ. On the feast of the ascension, the readings present the truth of the ascension and the subsequent results and fruits, “And He said to them, “Go into all the worldand preach the gospel to every creature.He who believes and is baptized will be saved;but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16) And the matins psalm declares the blessings of the ascension, “You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the Lord God might dwell there.” (Psalm 68:18)
The Pauline epistle in its discussion about the incarnation, explains what Christ offered us with His body, which He took in order to redeem us and save each and every one of us with it, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16) He died, and we participated in His death by being buried with Him in baptism, and then He rose and He raised us up with Him, “…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” (Ephesians 2:6) Therefore, His incarnation is the mystery of godliness, “…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…” (Ephesians 1:4)
The catholic epistle presents our new birth in baptism as a fruit for Christ’s resurrection and His sitting at the right hand of the Father, “…who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.” (1 Peter 3:22)
As for the book of Acts, it is the main source of the events of the ascension along with the circumstances that preceded and followed it. It emphasizes the spiritual importance of Christ’s apparitions after the resurrection, “…to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) The importance of seeing the living Christ is because, “…you will see Me.Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19) It was necessary to prove the truth of Christ’s resurrection to the disciples themselves as well as His ascension before them to the heavens in a tangible way that the eyes perceive as a tangible reality and as such they preach to the whole world. This chapter of readings is considered ultimately important in the spread of Christianity, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) This chapter also declares Christ’s ascension to the heavens with His body, “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9)
The chapter from the gospel according to St. Luke integrates with the book of Acts in presenting the events of the ascension, and is preceded by the psalm in presenting the prophecy, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.” (Psalm 24:7-9) The angels marvel at seeing a Man ascend to the heavens with His body, which Daniel the prophet explains in his vision, whose secrets he did not understand, he said, “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)
The gospel clarifies the following important truths:
- “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45) The disciples were not aware of the measures and mysteries of salvation that were revealed in the books. It was important for these mysteries to be explained to them.
- “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day…” (Luke 24:46)
- “…and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47)
- “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city [b]
The Communion and Gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life
The readings of the sixth and seventh weeks of the Holy Fifties
The liturgical readings during the first six Sundays of the Holy fifties, until the feast of the ascension reveal Christ Who rose from the dead using many proofs. The readings begin by describing the Holy Spirit during the Holy Fifties, after the feast of the ascension and during the second half of the sixth and seventh weeks of the holy fifties. The readings tie together the resurrection and the ascension by the Holy Spirit and His work in the church.