Pope Francis focused his Angelus message today on the saving power of Jesus’ redemption, explaining that the risen Christ who ascends to heaven brings the scars of his crucifixion with him.
“And Jesus, when he goes to heaven, carries there a gift for the Father. Have you thought about this? What is the gift that Jesus brings to the Father? His wounds,” the Pope told the crowds filling St. Peter’s Square on June 1.
“And when he goes to the Father, he says to the Father, ‘look, Father: this is the price of forgiveness you give. And when the Father sees Jesus’ scars, he always forgives us.”
Pope Francis impressed upon his listeners the importance of Jesus’ redemptive work in his suffering, death and resurrection.
God forgives our sinfulness “not because we are good, no! Because he (Jesus) has paid for us.”
Jesus continues his saving work, interceding for every individual before the Father, noted the Pope. “This is the great work that Jesus does today in heaven - to make known to the Father in heaven the price of forgiveness: his wounds.”
Pope Francis explained that even though Jesus ascended to “the heights of Heaven to show us that the goal of our journey is the Father,” he “remains present and working in the events of human history with the power and the gifts of his Spirit.”
“Jesus is close to each one of us - even if we don’t see him with our eyes, He is here!”
The “risen Jesus is close to Christians who are persecuted and discriminated against; he is close to every man and woman who suffers. He is close to all of us. Even today he is here with us in the square. The Lord is with us. Do you believe this?” he queried the crowds.
“Let’s say it together,” he urged, “The Lord is with us!”
Christ’s presence through the Holy Spirit also works “through the Church, which he has invited to continue his mission,” Pope Francis explained.
Jesus’ final command to the disciples, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,” remains the mission of the Church.
The Church is a Christian community “in departure” or in “going out.” Even the cloistered communities are “in departure” through “prayer, with a heart opened to the world, to the horizons of God,” he stressed.
The same can be said for the elderly, or the sick, Pope Francis encouraged, for “they, too, with prayer and union with Jesus’ wounds” have a missionary calling.
It is not through human efforts that the Church can fulfill her mission, however. “Alone, without Jesus, we cannot do anything!” underscored the Pope. “In apostolic activity our strength, our resources, our structures, are not enough, even though they are necessary.”
“Without the presence of the Lord and the power of the Spirit, our work, even if well organized, turns out to be ineffective.”
The Pontiff added that along with Jesus, Mary accompanies us, for “she is already in the house of the Father, she is the Queen of Heaven.”
He then led the crowds in the Marian prayer of the Easter season, the Regina Coeli, and invoked Mary’s intercession as “Queen of Peace” in a special prayer for the Ukraine and the Central African Republic with their continued circumstances of political unrest and violence.
“I renew my heartfelt appeal to all the parties involved, so that they may overcome misunderstandings and seek dialogue and reconciliation with patience,” he implored.
Pope Francis also noted that today marks the World Day for Social Communications.
“Let us pray in order that communications, in every form, may be effective at the service of meetings between persons, communities, nations; a meeting founded upon respect and mutual listening,” he said.
The Pope took a moment to recall the newly beatified Madre Speranza, founder of the Italian religious communities Handmaids and Sons of Merciful Love. “Her testimony helps the Church to announce everywhere, with daily and concrete gestures, the infinite mercy of the heavenly Father for every person.”
He then greeted the various pilgrims present, closing with his customary wish for everyone to have a “good Sunday and a good lunch.” Today he added, “and pray for me!”