Rev. Anthony is a Coptic Orthodox monk from St. Shenouda Monastery in Australia. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy on the subject of the Arrow Prayer in the Coptic Tradition. In the monastery, Father Anthony collaborates with many young people to produce Orthodox books and music.
The Orthodox Church relives the events of the life of Christ every year in all of Her Feasts, from the Annunciation to Christmas to all of the other intense events of Holy Week, which end with the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. Through these Feasts we are invited to participate by living our lives in Christ. In fact, the whole journey of incarnation and death and resurrection of Christ were ultimately realized so that, like Christ, we too could have victory over sin and death.
In other words, all of the actions of Jesus when he was on earth, such as praying, fasting, doing good works, dying and rising from the dead, were not for His benefit. He set those examples so that when we may participate in these actions, walking the path that the Lord has set forth for us to lead us to salvation.
This journey does not stop at the Resurrection of Christ. We know that after 40 days, Jesus ascended and “sat at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).
When you think about it, what does that mean? He is God? And He and the Father are one? How can He sit at the right hand of the Father? The same principle applies. He sat at the right hand of the Father so that when we may live a life in Christ. The end of the journey is to sit at the right hand of the Father, which we sometimes loosely call heaven.
During last week’s Feast of the Ascension, we were celebrating our heavenly life,. Today the doors of heaven are opened to us, and we are invited to sit, in Christ, at the right hand of the Father. This is a privilege of which none of the Old Testament patriarchs or prophets could have dreamed.
When Saint Stephen was being stoned outside the city, the Bible says, “But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,” (Acts 7: 55)
Can you imagine what else Saint Stephen would have been seeing? It is not mentioned in the Bible, but he would have seen himself in Christ sitting at the right hand of God. Do you imagine Saint Stephen would have cared about those around him or the stones that were bruising every part of his body?
The Feast of Ascension is the feast when we remember our final destination, in Christ at the right hand of God. When we know that no pain or hardship will distract us no matter how severe our pain is, from our destination, which is far more majestic.
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