Pope Francis on the Ascension: Christ ‘does not want to limit our freedom’ by his presence

Pope Francis on the Ascension: Christ ‘does not want to limit our freedom’ by his presence

Pope Francis delivers the Regina Coeli address in St. Peter’s Square, May 29, 2022. / Vatican Media

Denver Newsroom, May 29, 2022 / 09:32 am (CNA).

Reflecting on the feast of the Ascension, Pope Francis on Sunday discussed the two acts that Christ performed immediately before ascending into heaven: he announced the gift of the Holy Spirit, and blessed his apostles.

The pope said focusing on these acts can help us to understand the meaning and importance of the Ascension. 

“[A]s he makes his ‘exodus’ to Heaven, Christ ‘makes way’ for us, he goes to prepare a place for us and, from this time forth, he intercedes for us, so that we may always be accompanied and blessed by the Father,” Pope Francis told the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square May 29. 

The pope noted that Christ “does not want to limit our freedom” by his presence. “On the contrary, he leaves space to us, because true love always generates a closeness that does not stifle, is not possessive, is close but not possessive; on the contrary, true love which makes us protagonists,” the pope said. 

“And so, ascending to Heaven, instead of remaining beside a few people with his body, Jesus becomes close to all with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes Jesus present in us, beyond the barriers of time and space, to make us his witnesses in the world.”

Christ’s action of blessing the apostles after he announces the Spirit is a “priestly gesture” which shows that Christ “is the great priest of our life” who intercedes for us in heaven. 

“Brothers and sisters, let us think today of the gift of the Spirit we have received from Jesus to be witnesses of the Gospel,” the pope concluded. 

“Let us ask ourselves if we really are; and also, if we are capable of loving others, leaving them free and making room for them. And then: do we know how to make ourselves intercessors for others, that is, do we know how to pray for them and bless their lives? Or do we serve others for our own interests? Let us learn this: intercessory prayer, interceding for the hopes and sufferings of the world, interceding for peace. And let us bless with our eyes and our words those we meet every day!”

Following the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis praised Don Luigi Lenzini, an Italian martyr killed in 1945 “in the climate of hatred and conflict at that time.”

In addition, Pope Francis noted that May 29 is World Social Communications Day, which this year has the theme “Listening with the ear of the heart.” 

“Knowing how to listen, besides being the first gesture of charity, is also the first indispensable ingredient of dialogue and good communication: knowing how to listen, to let others say everything, not to cut them off hallway, knowing how to listen with the ears and with the heart. I hope that everyone may grow in this capacity to listen with the heart,” Pope Francis said. 

He also noted that the Vatican is inviting Catholics to join him in praying the rosary for peace in Ukraine and around the world at the end of the Marian month of May. The pope will pray the rosary before the statue of Mary Regina Pacis at the Basilica of St. Mary Major on May 31.

Finally, the pope announced the names of 21 new cardinals, who will be created at an August consistory.

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