Ascension Thursday


Reading from the Synaxarion:
The Lord Jesus passed forty days on earth after His Resurrection from the dead, appearing continually in various places to His disciples, with whom He also spoke, ate, and drank, thereby further demonstrating His Resurrection. 
On this Thursday, the fortieth day after Pascha, He appeared again in Jerusalem. After He had first spoken to the disciples about many things, He gave them His last commandment, that is, that they go forth and proclaim His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
But He also commanded them that for the present, they were not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait there together until they receive power from on high, when the Holy Spirit would come upon them.
Saying these things, He led them to the Mount of Olives, and raising His hands, He blessed them; and saying again the words of the Father’s blessing, He was parted from them and taken up. Immediately a cloud of light, a proof of His majesty, received Him. 
Sitting thereon as though on a royal chariot, He was taken up into Heaven, and after a short time was concealed from the sight of the disciples, who remained where they were with their eyes fixed on Him. 
At this point, two Angels in the form of men in white raiment appeared to them and said, “Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go to heaven.” 
These words, in a complete and concise manner, declare what is taught in the Symbol of Faith concerning the Son and Word of God. Therefore, having fulfilled all His dispensation for us, our Lord Jesus Christ ascended in glory into Heaven, and sat at the right hand of God the Father.
As for His sacred disciples, they returned from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, rejoicing because Christ had promised to send them the Holy Spirit. It should be noted that the Mount of Olives is a Sabbath’s day journey from Jerusalem, or the distance a Jew was permitted to walk on the day of the Sabbath. 
St. Ecumenius of Trikala the Wonder-Worker (his name day is May 3rd) writes, “A Sabbath day’s journey is one mile in length. Clement of Alexandria writes in his fifth Stromatis (i.e. the Miscellanies)  “ it is two thousand cubits, as the Interpretation of the Acts states.” 
They both draw this conclusion because while they were in the wilderness, the Israelites always were within this distance from the Holy Tabernacle.

See Numbers 35:

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
2 Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them.
3 And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts.
4 And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about.
No Cross-Refs
5 And ye shall measure from without the city on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits; and the city shall be in the midst: this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities.

Apolytikion (the dismal prayer) for Holy Ascension in the Fourth Tone

O Christ our God, 

You ascended in Glory and gladdened Your disciples
             by the promise of the Holy Spirit. 
Your blessing assured them that You are the Son of God,
             the Redeemer of the world.