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He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father

Catechesis by Papa Francis    
General Audience, Wednesday 17 April 2013 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!
In the Creed, we find the affirmation that Jesus “ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father”. The earthly life of Jesus culminated with the event of the Ascension, that is when He passed from this world to the Father and was raised to sit at/on his right. What is the meaning of this event? What are the consequences for our lives? What does it mean to contemplate Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father? On this, let us be guided by the Evangelist Luke.

Let us start with the moment when Jesus decides to embark on his last pilgrimage to Jerusalem. St Luke notes: “When the days drew near for him to be lifted up, he took a firm decision to set out on the pathway towards Jerusalem” (Lk 9, 51). While he was “ascending” to the Holy City, where his own “exodus” from this life was to be accomplished, Jesus already saw the goal, Heaven, but he well knew that the road/way which would bring/lead him to the glory of the Father passed through the Cross, through obedience to the divine design of love for humanity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that “the elevation on the cross signifies and announces his elevation of the ascension into heaven” (n 661). We too/also must be clear, in our Christian lives, that entering into the glory of God demands daily fidelity to his will, even when it requires sacrifice and sometimes requires us to change our plans. The Ascension of Jesus happened
concretely/actually on the Mount of Olives, close to the place where he had retired/withdrawn to pray before the passion so as/in order to remain in profound/deep union with the Father: once again we see that prayer gives us the grace to live faithful to God’s plan.

At the end of his Gospel, St Luke
in a very concise way narrates the event of the Ascension. Jesus led the disciples “out towards Bethany and, lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they prostrated themselves before him; then they returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the temple blessing God” (Lk 24, 50-53); thus states St Luke. I would like to note two elements of the story. First (of all), during the Ascension Jesus accomplishes the priestly gesture of blessing and the disciples certainly expressed their faith with prostration, they knelt with bowed heads. This is a first important point: Jesus is the unique/only and eternal Priest who by/with his passion passed through death and the sepulchre/tomb and rose/has risen and ascended into Heaven; He is beside/with God the Father, where he intercedes for ever in our favour (cf Heb 9, 24). As St John affirms in his First Letter, He is our advocate: how beautiful it is to hear this! When someone is summoned by a judge or goes into a case/is involved in legal proceedings, the first thing he does is to seek an advocate to defend him. We have one who always defends us, who defends us from the snares of the devil, who defends us from ourselves, from our sins! Dearest brothers and sisters, we have this Advocate: let us not be afraid to go to Him to ask forgiveness, to ask for a blessing, to ask for mercy! He always forgives us, he is our advocate: he always defends us! Do not forget this! The Ascension of Jesus into heaven makes us know/acquaints us with this very consoling reality for/on our journey: in Christ, true God and true man, our humanity was brought/taken to God; He has opened the path for us; He is like a roped guide when one scales a mountain who has reached the top/summit and draws/atrracts/pulls us up to him, leading us to God. If we entrust our lives to Him, if we let ourselves be guided by Him, we are certain to be in safe hands, in the hands of our saviour, of our advocate.

A second element: St Luke relates that the Apostles,
having seen Jesus ascending into heaven, returned to Jerusalem “with great joy”. This seems a bit/little odd to us. Generally when we are separated from our family/relatives, from our friends, by/because of a definitive departure and above all by death, there is in us a natural sadness because we will no longer see their face, no longer hear their voice, no  longer be able to enjoy their affection, their presence. Instead the Evangelist underlines/emphasizes the profound joy of the Apostles. But why/how could this be? Precisely because, with the gaze of faith, they understand that, although taken/removed from their sight, Jesus stays/remains with them always/forever, he does not abandon them and, in the glory of the Father, he supports them, guides them and intercedes for them.

St Luke also narrates the fact of the Ascension at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, so as to underline/emphasize that this event is like the ring that engages/hooks and connects the earthly life of Jesus to that of the Church. Here St Luke also mentions/speaks of the cloud that took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples, who remain contemplating Christ who is ascending to God (cf Acts 1, 9-10). Then two men in white robes intervened/appeared who invited them not to remain immobile looking up to heaven/stand there looking up to heaven, but to nourish their lives and their witness with the certainty that Jesus will come again in the same way in which they saw him ascending into heaven (cf Acts 1, 10-11). It is exactly/precisely the invitation starting from the contemplation of the Lordship of Christ, so as to have from Him the strength to carry/spread and bear witness to the Gospel in everyday life. / This is the invitation to base our contemplation on Christ’s lordship, to find in him the strength to spread the Gospel and to witness to it in everyday life: to contemplate and to act, ora et labora as St Benedict taught, are both necessary in our life as Christians.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Ascension does not indicate/point to the absence of Jesus, but tells us that He is alive in our midst/amongst us in a new way; He is no longer in a specific place in the world as He was before the Ascension; now He is in the lordship of God, present in every space and time, close to each one of us. In our lives we are never alone: we have this advocate who awaits us, who defends us. We are never alone: the crucified and risen Lord guides us; with us there are many brothers and sisters who in silence and concealment, in their lives in their families and at work, in their problems and hardships, in their joys and hopes, they daily live faith and bring/bear, together with us, to the world the lordship of God’s love, in the risen Jesus Christ, ascended into Heaven, advocate for us. Thank you."

Saluti:

Je salue cordialement les pèlerins francophones, en particulier les participants aux différents pèlerinages diocésains et paroissiaux, ainsi que les nombreux élèves présents. La contemplation et l’action sont toutes deux nécessaires dans notre vie de chrétien. Je vous invite alors à contempler la Seigneurie de Jésus pour être fidèles au projet de Dieu sur vous et pour avoir la force de témoigner de l’Évangile dans le quotidien de votre vie. Bon pèlerinage à tous !

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua francese, in particolare i diversi pellegrinaggi diocesani e parrocchiali, come pure i numerosi studenti presenti. La contemplazione e l’azione sono entrambe necessarie nella nostra vita di cristiani. Vi invito pertanto a contemplare la Signoria di Gesù per essere fedeli al progetto di Dio su di voi e per avere la forza di testimoniare il Vangelo nella vostra vita quotidiana. Buon pellegrinaggio a tutti!]

I offer a cordial welcome to the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and I assure them of my prayers for their episcopal ministry. I also greet the priests of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Canada and the United States, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord.

[Saluto cordialmente i Presuli della Conferenza Episcopale di Inghilterra e Galles, assicurando loro la mia preghiera per il loro ministero episcopale. Saluto inoltre i sacerdoti dell’Istituto di Formazione Teologica Permanente presso il Pontificio Collegio Americano del Nord. Su tutti i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Danimarca, Svezia, Australia, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Filippine, Canada e Stati Uniti, invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore Risorto.]

Von Herzen grüße ich alle Pilger und Besucher deutscher Sprache, insbesondere die Marianische Männerkongregation Regensburg. Christus hat uns den Zugang zum Vater erschlossen. Vertrauen wir uns ihm an, vergessen wir seine großherzige Gegenwart in unserem Alltag nicht. Lassen wir uns von seiner Liebe erneuern. Euch allen wünsche ich eine frohe Osterzeit!

[Saluto di cuore i pellegrini e visitatori di lingua tedesca, in particolare la Marianische Männer - Kongregation Regensburg. Cristo ha aperto a noi l’accesso al Padre. Affidiamoci a lui, non dimentichiamo la sua benevola presenza nella nostra vita quotidiana. Lasciamoci rinnovare dal suo amore. A tutti voi auguro un lieto tempo di Pasqua.]

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular al grupo de la Arquidiócesis de Mérida, con su Pastor, Mons. Baltasar Enrique Porras Cardozo, así como a los venidos de España, Argentina, Panamá, Venezuela, México y otros países latinoamericanos. Contemplemos a Cristo, sentado a la derecha de Dios Padre, para que nuestra fe se fortalezca y recorramos alegres y confiados los caminos de la santidad. Muchas gracias.

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa: sede bem-vindos! Saúdo aos grupos vindos de Brasília, Uberlândia e São Paulo. Lembrai-vos que nunca estais sós: o Senhor crucificado e ressuscitado vos guia, em casa com as vossas famílias e no trabalho, nas dificuldades e nas alegrias, para que leveis ao mundo a primazia do amor de Deus. Obrigado pela vossa presença!

[Cari pellegrini di lingua portoghese: benvenuti! Saluto i gruppi venuti da Brasilia, Uberlándia e São Paulo. Ricordatevi che non siete mai soli: il Signore crocifisso e risorto vi guida, presso le vostre famiglie e nel lavoro, nelle difficoltà e nelle gioie, perché portiate al mondo il primato dell’amore di Dio. Grazie per la vostra presenza!]

الأب الأقدس:

أيها الأخوات والإخوة الأحباء الناطقون باللغة العربية: إن صعود المسيح للسماء لا يعني غيابه عن حياتنا، بل أنه الحي في وسطنا، والحاضر في كل مكان وزمان. ومن ثم فإننا لسنا أبدا بمفردنا: المسيح المصلوب والقائم من بين الأموات هو الذي يقودنا لأنه هو إله وسيد التاريخ، وهو شفيع ومخلص البشر. إن صعود يسوع إلى السماء هو أيضا ثمرة طاعته للآب وقبوله للصليب. إن المسيح يعلمنا شجاعة قبول مشيئة الله في حياتنا، حتى وإن بدت صعبة، لأن لا قيامة بلا صليب، ولا صعود بلا طاعة. أمنح للجميع البركة الرسولية

[Cari fratelli e sorelle di lingua araba. L’Ascensione di Cristo al Cielo non significa la sua assenza dalla nostra vita, ma che Egli è tra noi il Vivente, presente in ogni tempo e luogo. Per questo noi non siamo mai soli: Cristo crocifisso e risorto ci guida poiché è il Dio e il Signore della storia, il Salvatore dell’umanità! L’Ascensione di Gesù è il frutto della sua obbedienza e della sua accettazione della Croce. Egli ci insegna ad accettare la volontà di Dio nella vostra vita, anche quando sembra difficile, perché non c’è né risurrezione senza Croce, né Ascensione senza obbedienza. E a tutti imparto la Benedizione Apostolica!]

Witam uczestniczących w tej audiencji Polaków, a szczególnie pielgrzymów z sanktuarium świętego Andrzeja Boboli z Warszawy, przybyłych do Rzymu w 75. rocznicę kanonizacji swego Patrona. Święty Andrzej – kapłan, jezuita, męczennik, jeden z patronów Polski – to wierny świadek Chrystusa. Oddał życie za wiarę, pojednanie braci, zjednoczenie Kościoła. Niech jego wstawiennictwo u Boga wyjedna Kościołowi dar jedności i pokoju. Z serca wam błogosławię.

[Saluto cordialmente i Polacchi partecipanti a questa udienza e in modo particolare i pellegrini dal santuario di Sant’Andrea Bobola in Varsavia, venuti a Roma nel 75° anniversario della canonizzazione del loro Patrono. Egli, sacerdote, gesuita, martire, uno dei patroni della Polonia, fu fedele testimone di Cristo. Ha dato la sua vita per la fede, per la riconciliazione dei fratelli e per l’unità della Chiesa. La sua intercessione davanti a Dio ottenga alla Chiesa il dono dell’unità e della pace. Vi benedico di cuore.]

* * *

Saluto con affetto i fedeli di lingua italiana. In particolare, i pellegrinaggi Diocesani, guidati dai rispettivi Vescovi: penso specialmente alle comunità del Triveneto, che hanno accompagnato i loro Pastori nella Visita ad Limina Apostolorum. Saluto le numerose parrocchie, in particolare quella del Buon Pastore di Caserta e di S. Maria Assunta in Frosinone. Saluto i Padri Giuseppini del Murialdo, i Religiosi dell’Ordine della Madre di Dio, che ricordano il 75° anniversario della canonizzazione del fondatore san Giovanni Leonardi, e i sacerdoti della diocesi di Verona, tanto cari a noi latinoamericani per la loro missionarietà. A tutti auguro che questo tempo pasquale sia un profondo invito a rinnovare la propria esistenza ponendola al servizio del Vangelo.

Era prevista per oggi anche la presenza dell’Arcivescovo di Sassari, in Sardegna, e degli operai della società “E.ON”. Ma l’aereo ha avuto un ritardo di tre ore, e non sono riusciti ad arrivare. Ma li abbiamo presenti nel cuore.

Saluto, infine, i giovani, i malati e gli sposi novelli. Il Signore risorto riempia del suo amore il cuore di ciascuno di voi, cari giovani, di voi studenti oggi così numerosi, perché siate pronti a seguirlo con entusiasmo. Non si può capire un giovane senza entusiasmo! Seguire il Signore con entusiasmo, lasciarsi guardare da Lui. Sostenga voi, cari malati, perché possiate accettare con serenità il peso della sofferenza; e guidi voi, cari sposi novelli, perché la vostra famiglia cresca nella santità, seguendo il modello della Santa Famiglia.

APPELLO

Ho appreso con tristezza del violento sisma che ha colpito le popolazioni dell’Iran e del Pakistan, portando morte, sofferenza, distruzione. Innalzo una preghiera a Dio per le vittime e per tutti coloro che sono nel dolore e desidero manifestare al popolo iraniano e a quello pakistano la mia vicinanza. Grazie."

Francis - General Audience, Wednesday, 17 April 2013, St Peter's Square