Pope Francis on May 13, 2018 – Ascension Sunday – said it is a day in which we direct our gaze to heaven, then back to our mission on earth.
His comments came before praying the Regina Coeli with a crowd estimated at 45,000 in St. Peter’s Square.
“This feast contains two elements,’ the Holy Father explained. “On one hand, it directs our look to Heaven, where Jesus, glorified, is seated at the right hand of God (Cf. Mark 16:19). On the other, it recalls 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 exhorts us to raise our gaze to Heaven, to then turn it back immediately to earth, carrying out the tasks that the Risen Lord has entrusted to us.”
The mission of the Church is “boundless” and beyond “human strength” in the Pope’s estimate. And he entrusted it to a few “simple men without great intellectual capacities.”
“Yet this meager company, irrelevant in face of the world’s great powers, is sent to bring Jesus’ message of love and mercy to all corners of the earth,” the Pope continued. Jesus assures his little band that the Holy Spirit will sustain them, they begin their work, and that work is continued by their successors.
“The mission entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles has been carried out through the centuries, and it continues still today: it requires the collaboration of us all,” Francis reminded the large crowd. “Each one, in fact, by dint of the Baptism he received, is qualified on his part to proclaim the Gospel. It’s in fact Baptism that qualifies us and also drives us to be missionaries, to proclaim the Gospel.
“As at the beginning the Risen Christ sent His Apostles with the strength of the Holy Spirit, so today He sends all of us, with the same strength, to put concrete and visible signs of hope; because Jesus gives us hope; He has gone to Heaven and has opened the doors of Heaven and the hope that we will arrive there.”