Ascension Day – Byzantine Rite – 25 May 2023

Troparion 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!

First Reading Acts

In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom he had chosen.
He presented himself alive to them
by many proofs after he had suffered,
appearing to them during forty days
and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While meeting with the them,
he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,
but to wait for “the promise of the Father
about which you have heard me speak;
for John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
When they had gathered together they asked him,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven

~Chapter: 1, Verses: 1 to 11

Second Reading Timothy

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was
preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

Chapter: 1, Verses: 3 to 16

Gospel of John

~Chapter: 20, Verses: 17 to 21

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go
instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your
Father, to my God and your God.


Today on the celebration of the Ascension of Jesus our Lord into heaven. We
remember that after Jesus died on the cross, he was buried in the tomb of a friend.
And everybody who loved him went into mourning and shock. After his
resurrection, the Risen Lord appears a number of times to his disciples under a
variety of circumstances. His final appearance is his leading them back to Galilee
where, in happier days, he had preached the Gospel and formed his little company
of disciples to continue his work.
Now he brings them to a mountaintop to say goodbye.
But, of course, to a mountain top! Are not the mountain tops the places where
vows are taken, sacred covenants exchanged, holy promises made, and where
people reach out to touch God? Remember in the days long past, when Moses led
the Children of Israel to Mt. Sinai where the sacred Covenant with God was carved in stone. And it was on the hilltop of Calvary where Jesus, the Messiah, offered himself on the cross, to gain for us all eternal life. His mission was accomplished, and the Son returns today to his Father in triumphant glory and a warm embrace. And the whole world changes.
It is here on top of the mountain that Christ gives his last words before rising to the heavens. Fulfilling the covenants before and shattering the walls between life, death/ heaven, and earth. Here he will rise into the heavens completing his work on earth and will not walk it again until the second coming.
We do not need to climb a mountain to experience closeness to Christ although
many do. Being in places of natural wonder and seeing God’s creation and splendor should always bring us closer to Christ. Remembering the ascension in these moments lets us share some of the wonders of those first Christian disciples. Seek out your own mountain top experience and remember he is risen!

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