Vatican City, 1 June 2014 (VIS) – At midday today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square and, before the Marian prayer, he mentioned that today in Italy and in other countries we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus Christ, which takes place forty days after the Resurrection. On that day, Jesus returns to His Father and commands the disciples to proclaim His message of salvation to the world.
“Jesus leaves and goes up to Heaven”, he explains; “He returns to the Father Who sent Him to the world. He had finished his work and returned to His Father. But this is not a separation, because he remains with us always, in a new form. With His ascension, the Risen Lord lifts the gaze of the Apostles – and also ours – to the heights of Heaven to show us that our path leads us to the Father. However, Jesus remains present and at work in the vicissitudes of human history with the power and gifts of His Spirit; this accompanies each one of us, even though we do not see Him with our eyes. He accompanies us and guides us, He gives us His hand and lifts us up when we fall. The resurrected Jesus is close to those Christians who are persecuted and discriminated against; He is close to every man and woman who suffers.
“And Jesus, when He returns to Heaven, takes a gift to His Father: his wounds. His body is beautiful, without the wounds of flagellation, but the wounds are still present. And when He returns to the Father, He says: Look, this is the price of the forgiveness you give. And when the Father looks upon Christ's wounds, He always forgives. Not because we are good: no. Looking at Jesus' wounds, the Father becomes more merciful”.
“But Jesus is also present through the Church, which He sent to continue His mission. Jesus' last word to His disciples is the order to go forth: 'Therefore go and make disciples of all nations'. It is a precise mandate – it is not optional! The Christian community is a community that is on the move, that goes out. More than this: the Church was born outgoing. And you will ask me, but what about cloistered communities? Yes, it applies to them too, as they always reach out through prayer, with their hearts open to the world, to God's horizons. And the elderly, the sick? They too are in prayer and union with Jesus' wounds”.
Following the Regina Coeli, the Pope said, “It is with a heavy heart that I pray for the victims of the continuing tension in some areas of Ukraine, and also in the Republic of Central Africa. I renew my urgent appeals to all the parties involved to overcome their misunderstandings and to seek patiently dialogue and pacification. May Mary Queen of Peace help all of us by her maternal intercession”.
He went on to mention that today is World Social Communications Day, the theme of which this year is communication in the service of the culture of encounter: “Social communication media may promote a sense of unity within the human family, solidarity and commitment to a dignified life for all. Let us pray that communication, in every form it takes, may be effectively at the service of encounter between people, communities, families, nations; an encounter based on respect and mutual listening”.
Finally, he mentioned the beatification on Saturday afternoon in Collevalenza, Italy, of Mother Maria Esperanza of Jesus (Maria Josefa Alhama Valera), foundress of the Congregations of the Handmaids and the Sons of Merciful Love, and expressed his hope that “her witness may help the Church to proclaim everywhere, with concrete daily gestures, the infinite mercy of the heavenly Father towards every person”.