ASCENSION OF THE LORD — PEACE, HOLY SPIRIT , AND FORGIVENESS OF SINS
Archbishop Andrew of Novo-Diveyevo
“While He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into
heaven. And they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great
joy” ...with great joy… “and were continually in the temple, praising
and blessing God” (Lk. 24:51-3).
If, during the course of six weeks, the Holy Church has been teaching us
to preserve this peace which Christ granted on the first day of His
Resurrection, saying: “Peace be unto you” (Jn. 20:19), then now this
feeling of peace should fill our hearts. You see,
this feeling of peace appears in all of us as an expectation of joy.
People search for some kind of rest, some kind of comfort. For this they
travel from place to place in order to find peace. And yet this peace
is within them, only in an unrevealed state.
Peace is that gift which the Lord gave to us, that peace which keeps a
person in a kind of unearthly state of joy. This is what the Holy Church
has been teaching us during the six weeks of Pascha: to be close to
Christ, to preserve this peace, protect ourselves
from those things which, entering our heart, might disturb this peace.
You see, our heart is the place in which peace abides.
peace abides in the heart as long as nothing burning approaches the
heart. But as soon as something burning (some kind of passion)
approaches the heart — then at once peace leaves and
a storm begins. This storm thrashes all our hearts. This storm is the
element of the enemy of the human race, troubling all of humanity. May
this storm pass by those who are in the shelters of Christ.
are these shelters of Christ? these refuges for human souls from the
storms of life? This is what they are. On the evening of the first day
of His Resurrection, when the doors of the
house where His disciples were gathered were locked for fear of the
Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them: “Peace be
unto you!” This is His first gift, as it were, the first shelter, which
through His disciples He gave to all of us Christians.
He had so said, He showed unto them His hands [and feet] and His side.
Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to
them again, Peace be unto you: as My
Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He
breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit: Whose
so ever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven; and whose so ever sins ye
retain, they are retained” (Jn. 20:20-23).
Here is the second gift, the second shelter. And now, when Christ
ascends, He leaves us the Grace of the Holy Spirit which He promised on
the very first day of His Resurrection. He leaves two gifts for us. The
first gift is the peace which all people search
for — true happiness. And the second gift, as if protecting and
preserving this peace, is the Sacrament of Repentance, the gift of the
Holy Spirit given to His disciples — the gift of the remission of sins.
today, while parting from the disciples and ascending into heaven, He
blessed them. And what happened? There was a parting. Now parting always
brings sadness, but they left in joy. Why?
Well, because before them were revealed the ways of life, which were no
longer self-reliant, but were with the Grace of God. They knew that they
too would go into eternity to Christ. And while living in this earthly
life, which is so bound up with the storms
of life, the path they were going would be quiet and peaceful for them,
because the Grace of the Holy Spirit is breathed into the priesthood,
forgiving and absolving.
does the Apostle say in this regard? Here is what he says: “For ye are
dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our
life shall appear, then shall ye also appear
with Him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the
earth; fornication, uncleanness...covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col.
3:3-5). In other words, you proceed and around you pass all these
waves: impurity, anger, fury, slander. Your heart
is tossed from one side to the other. Yet you are joyful. Around you is
the Hand of the Lord, the Grace of the Holy Spirit which guides and
comforts you, giving light, freeing you from darkness and anguish.
joy. The joy is that we are liberated. We have that inner joy which only
a Christian can have, who has the Hand of God, the hand of Grace,
absolving us of our sins. And we know that finding
ourselves on this path of Grace, we go enlightened into Eternal