Sunday, November 16, 2008

Homily 2

Acts 1:6-11

Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"

And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,

who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."


Christ's disciples are intent on the restoration of the Kingdom. Christ changes the conversation by reminding them to wait for the Holy Spirit. He also moves the discussion from them waiting for God to act. Christ tells his disciples to be witnesses on His behalf to the end of the earth.

And Christ frustrates their plans-- "it is not for you to know times or seasons." Instead, wait for the Holy Spirit.

And with this final exhortation to wait, Christ is removed from their sight. And immediately angels comfort the disciples-- He will come again in like manner.


Immediately after Christ assures his disciples that they will receive the Holy Spirit, they ask not about this but instead: "will you now restore the kingdom?"

This, says Chrysostom, is because they wished to breathe freely again-- after the great horror of Christ's death, they wanted the relief of the Kingdom. Chrysostom emphasizes that it is greater to learn that Christ will reign than to learn the time when. Christ again tells them to wait for the Holy Spirit, and then ascends before they can ask any more questions. Chrysostom again remarks on the irrelevance of the question "When?"-- "To raise up the dead is much greater than to learn the day." (12)

Christ tells them, as Chrysostom paraphrases, "In the very place... where ye are afraid, that is, in Jerusalem, there preach ye first."

The remainder of the sermon is a meditation on Christ's bodily ascension. Chrysostom emphasizes the necessity of the Incarnation, that creation is not evil. If anything, if creation, were pure evil, he says, it would self-destruct. A city of thieves who steal from even one another will fall apart quickly. It is the good that preserves us.

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