“Although ascended to Heaven, Christ is present in the Church by the grace of the Holy Spirit,” His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania said during his homily on the feast of the Ascension, June 10, 2021.
Speaking of the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church, explaining why the Fathers call Him the “throne of glory” of Christ, the Patriarch identified Him as the bright cloud upon which Christ ascended to Heaven.
The Gospel of the feast “shows us that Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, strengthens the Disciples and shows them that the promise of the Father means the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Disciples in the form of tongues of fire.”
It is not enough to know the Gospel theoretically, the Romanian primate said, but the Disciples also had to come to know the power of the Holy Spirit, to “be moved by the power of the Holy Spirit, the sanctifying one, Who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son.”
The very place of the Ascension of the Lord, the Mount of Olives symbolizes “the mystery of the Church, which exists and works through the blessing of Christ,” His Beatitude said. And it was at the foot of the mountain, in the Garden of Gethsemane, where the Savior prayed before His Passion. As the Patriarch explained, “Gethsemane” means “olive press.” And “olive oil was also used for blessing. It is a symbol of the blessing of the Holy Spirit,” Pat. Daniel said.
And in the Epistle reading for the feast, we read that the Lord ascended into Heaven on a bright cloud, His Beatitude noted.
“The Holy Fathers of the Church say that the cloud that appeared at the Ascension of the Lord is the same as the cloud that showed itself at His Transfiguration, when the voice of the Father said from the cloud: This is My Beloved Son—the same words that the Father said at the Baptism of the Lord,” the Patriarch commented.
St. John Chrysostom calls this cloud the “King’s throne,” His Beatitude noted.
“St. Ambrose of Milan said that the throne of God is the Person of the Holy Spirit, and God—the Father and the Son—rests on the throne of Glory, which is the Holy Spirit, the One Who confesses, or confirms, the Father’s love for the Son and the Son’s love for the Father. So the Divine throne symbolized by the cloud is the Holy Spirit,” he continued.
And this comes full circle on the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descends upon the Disciples in the form of tongues of fire, Pat. Daniel said. “Therefore, in the Church of Christ, Christ is present until the end of the ages. Although ascended to Heaven, He is present in the Church by the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
“Thus, we understand why all the works of the Church are done by the invocation of the Holy Spirit. For through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is present in the Church; the whole Holy Trinity is present,” His Beatitude concluded.
English article by OrthoChristian
Photography courtesy of Basilica.ro / Mircea Florescu