Nikolai Velimirovich“O that I had wings like a dove; for then would I flee away and be at rest” (Psalm 54 [55]:6), the Psalmist cried in distress before Christʼs coming….

“My heart is disquieted within me, and the fear of death is fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and an horrible dread hath overwhelmed me”(vv. 4–5).

Such a terrible sense of deathly fear and of the horror of existence in the wastes of this life must, like a heavy nightmare, have weighed on the whole rational, honest world before Christ.

[…] But whither will you fly, O sinful human soul? … Lo, sin has clipped your wings…and has forced you firmly down to the ground.

Someone is needed, first to free you from the weight of sin, to wash you and make you stand erect.

And then someone is needed to implant and nourish new wings in you, so that you can fly.

Then you need someone, someone very strong, for whom the Cherubim with flaming swords will stand aside, to let you through to your glorious homeland.

Lastly, you need someone who will find mercy for you from your grieved Creator, so that He will receive you once more into the lands of His immortal country.

This “someone”…revealed Himself as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.

From love for you, He bowed down from Heaven to earth and came down on earth, clothed Himself in flesh, became a prisoner for the sake of you prisoners, suffered sweat and frost, endured hunger and thirst, gave His face to spitting and His body to be nailed to the Cross, lay in the tomb as a corpse, went down to Hades to destroy a prison worse than this life, that was intended for you after your parting from the body

—and all this in order to save you from the mire of sin, and set you on your feet.

He then rose from the dead, by this means to give you wings for flight to Heaven, and finally ascended into Heaven to open the way to you and bring you into the Angelsʼ abode.

You do not now have to sigh in fear, trembling and horror as King David did, nor to desire wings like a dove, for the Eagle has appeared, and has shown and cloven a road through.

You have only to nurture the spiritual wings that you were given at your Baptism in His name, and to desire with all your strength to climb up there where He ascended.

He has done ninety-nine percent of all that is needed for your salvation. Will you not strive to do that one remaining percentage point…?

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): from Homily 27: The Ascension of the Lord in Homilies (Birmingham: Lazarica Press, 1996, Vol. I, pp. 296-299; full text @ Kandylaki.

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