The Ascension of Christ, an “anticipation of our destination”

The Ascension of Christ, an “anticipation of our destination”
The Ascension of Christ, an “anticipation of our destination”
During the Ascension, Christ “takes us with him as in a rope” towards Heaven, Pope Francis affirmed during the Angelus of May 12, 2024.

During the Ascension, Christ “takes us with him as in a rope” towards Heaven, Pope Francis affirmed during the Angelus of May 12, 2024. In this rope, he stressed, “no one must be lost nor left behind, because we are one body”.

In Italy, as in many countries where Ascension Thursday is not a public holiday, Catholics celebrate Ascension Day on Sunday. This decision was taken by the Italian bishops in 1977, and validated by Pope Paul VI, who aligned himself with the decision of his brother bishops. The Ascension, which commemorates Christ’s ascent into paradise forty days after his resurrection, is not a “departure” but an “anticipation of our destination”, Francis explained to the large crowd gathered in Saint Peter’s Square, under a summer sun. To illustrate his point, he took as an example the moment when, while climbing a mountain, a walker ends up seeing the horizon clear, the landscape revealed, and knows that the summit is no longer very far away. .

Let yourself be transformed by the Holy Spirit

“It is then that the whole body finds the strength to face the final ascent,” underlined Pope Francis. Christ, who is like the head of this mountaineer, thus leads “the whole body” towards Heaven. This destination is known to believers “by his Word and by the grace of the Sacraments”. And in this ascension, the Pope insisted, “the step of one is a step for all”. Indeed, as a Church, “no one must be lost or left behind, because we are one body”.

The “steps” remain to be taken, assured the Pope. For this, Christ asks his disciples to accomplish the “works of love”: “give life, bring hope, distance yourself from all wickedness and pettiness, respond to evil with good, be close to those who suffer.”

As they walk, believers allow themselves to be “transformed” by the Spirit, the Pope concluded. “The more we follow his example, the more, as in the mountains, we feel the air around us becoming light and pure, the horizon wide and the goal close, the words and gestures becoming good, the mind and the heart expand and breathe”.

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