(Vatican Radio) During his weekly Regina coeli address, Pope Francis spoke about the feast of the Ascension, which is celebrated on Sunday in Italy and some other countries.
“Setting out” is the key word of today’s feast, the Pope said in his weekly Regina coeli address. “Jesus sets out toward the Father, and commands His disciples to 'set out' into the world."
But Jesus’ return to the Father is not a separation from us, Pope Francis said. Rather, the risen Lord draws our gaze to heaven “to show us that the end of our journey is the Father. Jesus Himself said that He was going to prepare a place for us in Heaven.” Even if we can’t see Jesus, he is always with us: “He is always with us, and even now is here with us in the Piazza. The Lord is with us!”
When He returns to heaven, Pope Francis continued, Jesus brings a present to the Father – the gift of His wounds. “See Father,” Jesus says, “this is the price of the forgiveness you have given.” Once again, as he has so often in the past, Pope Francis returned to the theme of forgiveness. “This is the great work of Jesus today in Heaven, to show the Father the price of forgiveness, His wounds. This is a beautiful thing, which urges us to not fear to ask for forgiveness. The Father always forgives, because He sees the wounds of Jesus, He sees our sin, and He pardons it.”
Pope Francis continued, saying Jesus is also present in the Church, which continues and prolongs His mission. Jesus’ last words to His disciples, the command to “Go… and make disciples of all nations,” the Pope said, is “a clear mandate, it is not optional.” But this command to be missionary disciples can only be fulfilled because Jesus remains with us. “By ourselves,” the Pope said, “without Jesus, we can do nothing. In our apostolic work, our strength, our resources, our structures, are not enough, even if they are necessary. Without the presence of the Lord and the power of His Spirit, our work, however well organized, is ineffective.”
Following the Regina coeli prayer, the Holy Father noted the celebration of 48th World Communications Day, also taking place on Sunday. Modern means of social communication, he said, “can promote the sense of the unity of the human family, solidarity, and the commitment to a dignified life for all.”
Finally, Pope Francis recalled the beatification on Saturday of Blessed Madre Speranza, before greeting pilgrims from around the world.