At 5:15 pm today, the Holy Father Francis presided over a Eucharistic Concelebration for the faithful of the Archdiocese of Genoa in Kennedy Square.
At the end of the Holy Mass, the Archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, addressed words of gratitude to the Pope.
During the course of the rite, after the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Father delivered the homily which Zenit has translated below.
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We heard what the Risen Jesus said to His disciples before His Ascension: “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me”(Matthew 28:18) –the power of Jesus, the strength of God. This theme runs through today’s Readings: in the first Jesus says that it is not for the disciples to know “the times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority,” but He promises them the “power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:7-8). In the second <Reading>, Saint Paul speaks of the “immeasurable greatness of His power in us who believe” and “according to the working of His great might” (Ephesians 1:19). But in what does this might consist, this power of God?
Jesus affirms that it is a power “in Heaven and on earth.” It is first of all the power to connect Heaven and earth. Today we celebrate this mystery because, when Jesus ascended to the Father, our human flesh crossed the threshold of Heaven: our humanity is there, in God, forever. Our trust is there, because God will never be separated from man. And it consoles us to know that in God, with Jesus, a place is prepared for each one of us: a destiny of risen children awaits us and therefore it is really worthwhile to live down here seeking the things above where our Lord is (Cf. Colossians 3:1-2). See what Jesus has done with His power to connect earth and Heaven for us.
However, His power did not end once He ascended into Heaven; it continues also today and will last forever. In fact, before going up to the Father, Jesus said: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20). It is not a way of saying, a simple reassurance, as when before leaving for a long trip we say to friends :”I’ll think of you.” No, Jesus is truly with us and for us: in Heaven He shows His humanity to the Father, our humanity; He shows the Father His wounds, the price He paid for us and so “He is always living to intercede” (Hebrews 7:25) in our favor.
Behold the key-word of Jesus’ power: intercession. Jesus intercedes with the Father every day, every moment for us. In every prayer, in every request of ours for forgiveness, especially in every Mass, Jesus intervenes: He shows the Father the signs of his offered life — He said so –, His wounds, and He intercedes, obtaining mercy for us. He is our “advocate: (Cf. 1 John 2:1) and, when we have some important “cause,” we do well to entrust it to Him, saying: “Lord Jesus, intercede for me, intercede for us, intercede for that person, intercede for that situation . . .”
Jesus has also given us and to His Church, this capacity to intercede, which has the power and also the duty to intercede, to pray for all. We can ask ourselves, every one of us can ask himself: Do I pray? And all, as the Church, as Christians, exercise this power to take to God people and situations.” The world is in need of it. We ourselves are in need of it. We run and work so much in our days, we are committed to many things; however, we risk coming to the evening tired and with a heavy spirit, similar to a ship loaded with merchandise that after a difficult trip enters the port with the sole desire to dock and put out the lights. Living always between so many races and things to do, we can get lost, shut ourselves in ourselves and become restless over nothing. In order not to be submerged in this “harm of living,” let us remember every day to “cast our anchor in God”: we bring to Him the burdens, the persons and the situations, entrusting everything to Him. And this is the strength of prayer, which connects Heaven and earth, which enables God to enter in our time.
Christian prayer is not a means to be somewhat more in peace with oneself or find some interior harmony. We pray to bring everything to God, to entrust the world to Him: prayer is intercession; it is not tranquillity, it is charity. It is to ask, to seek, to knock (Cf. Matthew 7:7). It is to get involved to intercede, insisting assiduously with God for one another (Cf. Acts 1:14). To intercede without getting tired, is our first responsibility because prayer is the force that makes the world go on; it is our mission, a mission that at the same time costs effort and gives peace. Behold our power: not to prevail or to shout louder, according to this world’s logic, but to exercise the meek strength of prayer, with which wars can also be stopped and peace obtained. As Jesus intercedes always for us with the Father, so we, His disciples, must never get tired of praying to bring earth close to Heaven.
After the intercession, a second key-word emerges from the Gospel, which reveals Jesus’ power: the proclamation. The Lord sends His own to proclaim Him with the sole power of the Holy Spirit: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Go! It is an act of extreme trust in His own: Jesus trusts us, He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves! He sends us despite our failures, He knows that we will never be perfect and that, if we hope to become better to evangelize, we will never begin.
However, for Jesus it is important that we overcome immediately a great imperfection: closure, because the Gospel cannot be closed and sealed, because God’s love is dynamic and wishes to reach all. Therefore, in order to proclaim it is necessary to go, to go out of ourselves. We cannot be still with the Lord, comfortable in our own world and in nostalgic memories of the past; it is prohibited with Him to cradle ourselves in acquired securities. For Jesus security is in going out, with trust: His strength is revealed there, because the Lord does not appreciate comforts and conveniences, but He always unsettles and re-launches us. He wants us to go out, free from the temptation to be comfortable when we are well and have everything under control.
“Go,” Jesus says to us also today, who in Baptism conferred on each one of us the power to proclaim. Therefore to go into the world with the Lord belongs to the Christian’s identity. It is not only for the priests, the Sisters, the consecrated: it is for all Christians; it is our identity. To go into the world with the Lord: this is our identity. The Christian is not still but on the way: with the Lord towards others. However, the Christian is not a sprinter who runs wildly or a winner who must arrive before the others. He is a pilgrim, a missionary, a “hopeful marathon runner”: meek but determined to walk, confident and at the same time active, creative but always respectful, enterprising and open, industrious and supportive. With this style we go on the roads of the world!
As for the disciples of the origins, our places of proclamation are the roads of the world: it is above all there that the Lord waits to be made known today. As in the beginning, He wants the proclamation to be taken not with our but with His strength: not with the force of the world, but with the limpid and meek strength of the joyous witness. And this is urgent, brothers and sisters! Let us ask the Lord for the grace not to be fossilized on these non-central questions, but to dedicate ourselves fully to the urgency of the mission. Let us leave gossip to others and the feigned discussions of those who listen only to themselves, and let us work concretely for the common good and for peace; let us get involved with courage, convinced that there is more joy in giving than in receiving (Cf. Acts 20:35). May the risen and living Lord, who always intercedes for us, be the strength of our going, the courage of our walking.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]