Vatican City ( AsiaNews ) - The " keyword " of the Feast of the Ascension is "going" or rather "leaving" ... : Jesus leaves to be with his Father, the disciples leave to go out into the world". This is how Pope Francis described the Solemnity of the Ascension , which is celebrated 40 days after Easter (or the following Sunday) . Speaking to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the recitation of the Regina Caeli , the Pope explained, "Jesus leaves, he ascends to heaven, that is, returns to the Father from whom he had been sent into the world. But this is not a separation, because He remains with us forever, in a new form ... Jesus remains present and active in the affairs of human history with the power and the gifts of his Spirit, He is right beside each of us: even if we cannot see him with our own eyes, He is there! He accompanies us , guides us, He takes us by the hand and raises us when we fall. The risen Jesus is near to the Christians who are persecuted and discriminated against , he is close to every man and woman who suffers ". Speaaking off the cuff the Pope added: "Jesus is close to us here in the square. Together let us all say: The Lord is with us. Do you believe this ? Let us say together : the Lord is with us".
speaking off the cuff , he asked the question: " And what does he brig as
a gift to the Father? His wounds ... He says : Look Father, this is the price
of the forgiveness that You give . And when the Father looks at us, He forgives
He always sees the price of this forgiveness ... Do not be afraid to ask for
forgiveness because Jesus paid for us".
The Pope underlined then the disciples "leaving", which is very close to what has become his motto on the Church must "move out to the margins of society". But Jesus is also present through the Church, which He sent to extend His mission. The last words of Jesus to his disciples is the mandate:" Go therefore and make disciples of all nations "(Mt 28:19). This is a clear mandate, it is not optional! The Christian community is a "outgoing", "outward bound" community. And you may say: But what about the community of cloistered Yes , those, too, because they are always "outward bound" in prayer, their heart open to the world , the horizons of God, and the elderly, the sick? they too, through prayer and union with the wounds of Jesus".
to his missionary disciples - he added - " I am with you always , until
the end of the world" (v. 20) . Alone, without Jesus, we can do nothing! Our strengths, our resources , our capabilities are not enough in apostolic
work, even if they are necessary. Without the presence of the Lord and the
power of his Spirit, our work, even though well-organized it is ineffective ".
"But I would like you not to forget the gift that Jesus brings to the Father. What is the gift? His wounds. And together with Jesus Mary our Mother accompanies us. She is already in the house of the Father, she is the Queen of Heaven, and so we invoke her at this time , but just as Jesus is with us, she walks with us, she is the Mother of our hope".
After the Marian
prayer, Francis, "with a heart saddened", recalled "the victims of
the tensions that still continue in some regions of Ukraine, as well as in the
Central African Republic". "I
renew my heartfelt appeal - said the
pope - to all parties involved, that misunderstandings be overcome and that dialogue and reconciliation might
be sought with patience. May Mary , Queen of Peace , help us all with her maternal intercession".
And together with the faithful he repeated twice: "Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us".
The Pope then recalled that today, Solemnity of the Ascension , we celebrate the World Day of Social Communications, "on the theme of communication at the service of the culture of encounter". "Social communications - he explained - can foster a sense of unity in the human family, of solidarity and commitment to a life of dignity for all. Let us pray that communication, in all its forms, really be at the service of encounter between people, communities, nations, an encounter based on mutual respect and listening".
Finally , the pope announced that yesterday in Colvalenza "Mother Speranza was proclaimed Blessed. Born in Spain under the name of María Josefa Alhama Valera, she was the founder of the Handmaids of His Merciful Love in Italy. May her testimony help the Church to proclaim everywhere, with concrete and daily gestures, the infinite mercy of the heavenly Father for each person". The Pope asked all those present to salute the beatification of Mother Speranza with a round of applause.