The very thought of this day’s festival is great enough in itself, but the Prophet David hath much inflamed our joyful enthusiasm by the Psalms.

This noble Prophet hath, as it were, gone out of himself, as though the body were a weight duller than his spirit could bear.

He joineth company with the Powers of heaven, and telleth what they said when they went with the Lord heavenward, and cried in tones of command to those Angels who work on earth, and by whose heralding the Birth of the Incarnate One had been proclaimed:

Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in (Ps. 23:7,9).

He, Who containeth all things, is everywhere, but for the sake of them which receive Him, He is pleased to make Himself a local Presence which hath bounds.

Not only did He become a Man among men, but when conversing among Angels, He alloweth that title also to be given Him.

The gatekeepers therefore ask Who is this King of glory? and it is answered them that He is The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle”.

He is the Lord, Whose work it had been to fight him who held mankind in bondage, and to destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb. 2:14) that now that dark enemy was trampled down, and man had had won for him freedom and peace.

The keepers run to the gates, and bid the doors unfold, that the Lord may enter in, to take again the glory which He had there among them before.

But when they see Him clad in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3), they know Him not, even Him Who is red in His apparel, because that He hath trodden alone the winepress of human pain, and the blood is sprinkled upon His garments.

Therefore they cry again to their fellows that bear Him company: Who is this King of glory? And they answer them no more The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle but The Lord of hosts the Lord, Whose Own are become the kingdoms of the world the Lord, Who hath made Himself the Head of all things the Lord, Who hath made all things new (Apoc. 21:5), He is the King of glory!

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): Discourse on the Ascension, from Mattins of Wednesday in the Octave of the Ascension in the Old Breviary.

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