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Pope Francis - Ascension of the Lord - Regina Caeli - 2021.05.16

Pope Francis: Ascension of the Lord - Regina Caeli 16.05.2021

Pope Francis     16.05.21  Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square      Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord          Mark 16: 15-20

Pope Francis - the Ascension of the Lord - 16.05.21

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning

Today, in Italy and in other countries, we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. The Gospel passage (Mk 16:15-20) – the conclusion of the Gospel of Mark – presents us the Risen One’s final encounter with the disciples before he ascends to the right hand of the Father. Usually, as we know, farewell scenes are sad. They cause a feeling of loss, of abandonment in those who remain; instead, none of this happens to the disciples. Despite their separation from the Lord, they do not appear grief-stricken, but rather, they are joyful and ready to go out into the world as missionaries.

Why are the disciples not sad? Why should we too rejoice at seeing Jesus ascending into heaven? Because the Ascension completes Jesus’ mission among us. Indeed, if it is for us that Jesus descended from heaven, it is also for us that he ascends there. After having descended into our humanity and redeeming it – God, the Son of God, descends and becomes man, takes our humanity and redeems it – he now ascends into heaven, taking our flesh with him. He is the first man who enters heaven, because Jesus is man, true man; he is God, true God; our flesh is in heaven and this gives us joy. Now at the right hand of the Father sits a human body, for the first time, the body of Jesus, and in this mystery each of us contemplates our own future destination. This is not at all an abandonment; Jesus remains forever with the disciples – with us. He remains in prayer, because he, as man, prays to the Father, and as God, man and God, shows Him his wounds, the wounds by which he has redeemed us. Jesus’ prayer is there, with our flesh: he is one of us, God man, and he prays for us.

And this has to give us confidence, or rather joy, great joy! And the second reason for joy is Jesus’ promise. He told us: “I will send you the Holy Spirit”. And there, with the Holy Spirit, that commandment is made which he gives in his farewell: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel”. And it will be the power of the Holy Spirit that leads us there into the world, to bring the Gospel. It is the Holy Spirit of that day, that Jesus promised, and then nine days later he will come in the Feast of Pentecost. It is precisely the Holy Spirit who made it possible for us to be this way today. A great joy! Jesus went to heaven: the first man before the Father.

He left with his wounds, which were the price of our salvation, and he prays for us. And then he sends us the Holy spirit; he promises us the Holy Spirit, to go to evangelize. This is the reason for the joy today; this is the reason for the joy on this day of the Ascension.

Brothers and sisters, on this Feast of the Ascension, while we contemplate Heaven, where Christ has ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father, let us ask Mary, Queen of Heaven, to help us be courageous witnesses to the Risen One in the world, in the concrete situations of life.

Dear brothers and sisters.

I follow with great concern what is happening in the Holy Land. In recent days, violent armed clashes between the Gaza Strip and Israel have taken over, and are in danger of degenerating into a spiral of death and destruction. Many people have been injured, and many innocent people have died. Among them are also children, and this is terrible and unacceptable. Their death is a sign that they do not want to build the future, but they want to destroy it.

Furthermore, the crescendo of hatred and violence that is involving various cities in Israel is a serious wound to fraternity and peaceful coexistence among citizens, which will be difficult to heal unless we immediately open up to dialogue. I wonder: where will hatred and revenge lead? Do we really think we're building peace by destroying the other? "In the name of God who created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and called them to live together as brothers and sisters among them" (cf. Document on Human Fraternity) I appeal to calm and, to those who are responsible for it, to put an end to the din of arms and to walk the paths of peace, also with the help of the International Community.

Let us pray unceasingly that Israelis and Palestinians may find the way to dialogue and forgiveness, to be patient builders of peace and justice, opening themselves, step by step, to a common hope, to coexistence between brothers and sisters.

Let us pray for the victims, especially the children.

Today begins the "Laudato Si' Week", to educate us more and more to listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor. I thank the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Caritas Internationalis and the many participating organizations, and I invite everyone to participate.

I greet the pilgrims of different nations who yesterday, here in Rome in St. John Lateran, participated in the Beatification of the priest Francis Mary of the Cross, founder of the Salvatorian religious. He was a tireless proclaimer of the Gospel, using every means that Christ's charity inspired him. May his apostolic zeal be an example and a guide to all those in the Church who are called to bring the word and love of Jesus into every environment.

I wish you all a good Sunday, and please don't forget to pray for me. Have a nice lunch and arrivederci!