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2017 Ascension Message from Bishop Thomas

May 25, 2017
Holy Ascension

Beloved brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, God-fearing Monastics,
               and all my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ our True God:

I greet you on this most joyous feast, the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ! As human life has been restored by the Resurrection, our true homeland on high has been established by the Lord Christ’s Ascension. As Saint Gregory Palamas writes, “Neither an angel nor a man, but the Incarnate Lord Himself came and saved us, being made like us for our sake while remaining unchanged as God. In the same way as He came down, without changing place but condescending to us, so He returns once more, without moving as God, but enthroning on high our human nature which He had assumed. It was truly right that the first begotten human nature from the dead (Rev. 1:5) should be presented there to God, as firstfruits from the first crop offered for the whole race of men.”

There is only pure joy in this feast of the Lord for where He goes we hope to follow. In the words of Saint John Chrysostom, “This is the Lord of glory Who is ascended into the heavens with a shout, and is seated on the right hand of the Father. Under His authority are angels, and dominions and powers, and it is He Who receives our pained prayers, and makes us victors over the pirates of this world. Under His dominion is every rank of the unclean spirits, as He says to us: ‘Behold, I have given you authority to trample upon snakes and scorpions.’” 

Because of Him, we too are conquerors (Romans 8:37), no longer sojourning in a strange land but awaiting the great hope promised us in our heavenly homeland. 

Yours in Christ,

Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic

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