By Carol Glatz
At his Regina Coeli address on 13 May, Pope Francis said Christians must look for Christ as they journey through life, especially among the poor, and give concrete signs of hope to others.
The Ascension of Christ ushered in a “new form of Jesus’ presence among us”, he said to those gathered in St Peter’s Square.
The feast day comes 40 days after Easter and commemorates Jesus’ ascension into heaven. But some countries, like Italy, observe the feast day the following Sunday.
Pope Francis said the Ascension invites Christians to look to heaven, where Jesus was raised up in glory, and to look back down on earth to share and spread the good news and hope of salvation.
The feast marks the start of the Church’s mission, because the risen and ascended Christ sent his disciples out to spread the Gospel to the whole world, the Holy Father added.
“The task Jesus entrusts to a small group of men who are simple and without great intellectual abilities truly seems too audacious,” he explained.
“And yet, this tiny band of people – irrelevant before the great powers of the world – is sent to bring the message of love and mercy of Jesus to every corner of the earth.”
The Holy Father said that same mission Jesus entrusted to his apostles with the support of the Holy Spirit continues today and requires the help of everyone.
Christians are asked to be “men and women of the Ascension, that is, seekers of Christ along the pathways of our times, bringing his word of salvation to the ends of the earth”.
“On this route we encounter Christ himself” in others, especially those who are suffering “old and new” forms of poverty.
Christ invites everyone, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to offer “concrete and visible signs of hope” because Jesus has given them hope.
After leading the “Regina Coeli” prayer, Pope Francis also appealed for reconciliation and harmony in Indonesia and prayed for the nation’s people, particularly the Christian communities in the city of Surabaya.
Three suicide attacks there on 13 May targeted a Catholic parish and two other Christian churches, leaving at least 14 people dead and more than 40 people injured.
Police reported that the bombers were a family of six – a mother and father, two daughters, 9 and 12, and two sons, 16 and 18.
It said they were linked to local extremist network that supports the Islamic State group.
Pope Francis said he was praying for all those affected by the “serious attack against places of worship” and for the violence to stop.
He asked that “everyone find room in their heart for feelings – not of hatred and violence – but of reconciliation and fraternity”.