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Of the Octave (Ascension)

From a Sermon by St. John Chrysostom

When Christ went up into heaven, we offered unto the Father the first-fruits of our nature.  And the Father beheld the offering, noting that One of so great Majesty was the Priest, and that his oblation was a Sacrifice unspotted.  Wherefore God received the Sacrifice into his own hands, and made the Same to sit upon his throne.  Nay more, unto this same Christ our Sacrifice he gave a place at his wonw right hand.  Let us therefore consider what nature was Christ's, who then heard the words: Sit thou on my right hand.  Yea, let us consider what nature was his to whom God thus said, Be thou partaker of my Throne.  It was the same nature as was his who heard teh sentence: Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

It was not enough for him to pass through the heavens to the height of glory.  It was not enough for him to be ranked with the Angels.  But [like the sun, running about from beneath unto the heights and thus] making his circuit of the very heavens themselves, he went up above the Cherubim; he ascended beyond the Seraphim; and rested not until he had attained the Throne itself of the Lord of lords.  Behold how high the heaven is above the earth, and the earth above hell; and how high above the heaven is the heaven of heavens!  And how high above the heaven of heavens are the Angels; and above the Angels the higher powers, and above the higher powers the Throne of the Lord!  And over all these hath one of our nature been exalted, so that man, which had fallen so low that there was no further fall for him, is now in a place so high that he could ascend no higher.

Paul also, dwelling on this saith: he that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all the heavens, even as he had said: Now, that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  Learn hence who it was that ascended, and with what nature he was exalted.  And with this thought I wish to bring my sermon to an end, namely that as we remember what the human race is, we may learn with wonder what the goodness of God is, by whom our nature hath been crowned with an honor (higher than which is none), and a glory (greater than which is none), in Christ who this day took the place which is his of right, above all things other than himself.  This day Angels and Archangels behold our nature upon the Throne of the Lord, refulgent with eternal glory.

Excerpt from The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, page 634.

Additional Information:

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