VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul II´s address to pilgrims gathered at midday today in St. Peter´s Square, before the recitation of the “Regina Caeli.”
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Dearest Brothers and Sisters!
1. Jesus´ Ascension into Heaven is celebrated today in Italy and other countries. The traditional day would have been last Thursday; but, for pastoral reasons, the feast was transferred to today´s Sunday.
Jesus´ Ascension was an event that left an indelible mark in the memory of the first disciples, as we see in the testimony of the Gospel and in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Forty days after the Resurrection, Jesus led his disciples to the Mount of Olives, “toward Bethany,” and, “while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51). Naturally, they continued to look on high, but they were asked immediately by two angels: “Why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus … will come in the same way as you saw him go up to heaven” (Acts 1:11).
2. “On earth as it is in heaven”: these words, which we repeat every day in the prayer of the Our Father, express well the new condition of the disciples, transformed by the experience of the paschal mystery of Christ. They are at the same time citizens of earth and heaven.
Indeed, Christ has become the bridge between heaven and earth: He is the Mediator between God and man, between the Kingdom of heaven and the history of the world. United to Him in his same Spirit, believers form a new community, the Church, whose nature is at the same time visible and spiritual, a pilgrim in the world and participant of heavenly glory (see “Lumen Gentium,” 8. 48-51).
3. Among all creatures, Most Holy Mary was associated more than any other to this mystery. As the new Eve, from whom the new Adam was born, she points out the way for our endeavor on earth; at the same time, having been assumed into heaven in soul and body, She invites us to be directed to our real homeland, where the fullness of the life of love of God, One and Triune, awaits us.
As the Church embarks on the ocean of the new millennium, she does not lose sight of the polar star that guides her navigation. That star is Christ, Lord of the centuries. Next to Him is his and our Mother, who does not cease to accompany her children in their earthly pilgrimage. We look to her with sincere hope. We entrust to her the hopes and plans of the Church, as they emerged from the extraordinary consistory that just ended. As we sing the “Regina Caeli” with renewed confidence, we ask her for the gift of peace for the whole world.
[Translation by ZENIT]