Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord – 13 May
ANGELUS MESSAGE FROM POPE FRANCIS – 13 MAY 2018
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today, in Italy and in many other countries, the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated. This party contains two elements. On the one hand, it directs our gaze to heaven , where the glorified Jesus sits at the right hand of God (cf. Mk 16:19). On the other hand, it reminds us of the beginning of the Church ‘s mission : why? Because Jesus risen and ascended into heaven sends his disciples to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Therefore, the Ascension urges us to look up at the sky, and then immediately turn it to the earth, carrying out the tasks that the risen Lord entrusts to us.
This is what invites us to do today’s Gospel passage, in which the Ascension event comes immediately after the mission that Jesus entrusts to the disciples. It is a boundless mission – that is, literally without boundaries – that exceeds human forces. In fact, Jesus says: “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” ( Mk 16:15). It seems really too daring the task that Jesus entrusts to a small group of simple men and without great intellectual abilities! Yet this sparse company, irrelevant to the great powers of the world, is sent to bring the message of love and mercy of Jesus to every corner of the earth.
But this project of God can only be achieved by the power that God himself grants to the Apostles. In this sense, Jesus assures them that their mission will be sustained by the Holy Spirit. And he says thus: “You will receive strength from the Holy Spirit who will come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” ( At1.8). Thus this mission was able to come true, and the Apostles started this work, which was then continued by their successors. The mission entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles has continued throughout the centuries, and continues today: it requires the collaboration of all of us. In fact, each one, by virtue of the baptism he has received, is enabled on his part to proclaim the Gospel. There is precisely Baptism, that which empowers us and also urges us to be missionaries, to proclaim the Gospel.
The Ascension of the Lord to heaven, while inaugurating a new form of presence of Jesus in our midst, asks us to have eyes and heart to meet him, to serve him and to witness him to others. It is about being men and women of the Ascension, that is, seekers of Christ along the paths of our time, carrying his word of salvation to the ends of the earth. In this journey we encounter Christ himself in the brothers, especially in the poorest, in those who suffer in their own flesh the harsh and mortifying experience of old and new poverty. As at the beginning the Risen Christ sent his apostles with the power of the Holy Spirit, so today he sends all of us, with the same force, to make concrete and visible signs of hope. Because Jesus gives us hope,
May the Virgin Mary who, as the Mother of the Lord who died and rose, animated the faith of the first community of disciples, also help us to keep “our hearts high”, as she exhorts us to do the Liturgy. And at the same time help us to have “the feet on the ground”, and to sow the Gospel with courage in the concrete situations of life and history.