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

Catechesis by Pope Francis      
General Audience, Wednesday 17 April 2013 - also in Arabic, Croatian, 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”. Jesus's earthly life culminates with the event of the Ascension, that is when He passes from this world to the Father and is raised up to his right hand. What is the significance of this event? What are the consequences for our life? What does it mean to contemplate Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father? In this regard, let us be guided by the evangelist Luke.

Let us start with the moment when Jesus decides to undertake his last pilgrimage to Jerusalem. St Luke remarks: “Now as the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, he resolutely took the road for Jerusalem” (Lk 9, 51). While “ascending” to the holy City, where his “exodus” from this life will be accomplished, Jesus already sees the goal, Heaven, but knows well that the way which brings him back to the glory of the Father passes through the Cross, through obedience to the divine plan of love for humanity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that “the elevation on the cross signifies and announces the elevation of the ascension into heaven” (n 661). We too must be clear, in our Christian lives, that to enter into the glory of God demands daily fidelity to his will, even when it requires sacrifice, when it sometimes requires us to change our plans. The Ascension of Jesus occurred concretely on the Mount of Olives, close to the place where he had retired in prayer before the passion so as to remain in profound union with the Father: once again we see that prayer gives us the grace to live faithful to the project of God.

At the end of his Gospel, St Luke narrates the event of the Ascension in a very synthetic way. Jesus led the disciples “out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. Now as he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. They prostrated themselves before him and then went back to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the Temple praising God” (Lk 24, 50-53); thus states St Luke. I would like to remark on two elements of the story. First, during the Ascension Jesus accomplishes the priestly gesture of blessing and the disciples certainly expressed their faith by prostration, they knelt down with bowed heads. This is a first important point: Jesus is the unique and eternal Priest who with his passion has traversed death and the sepulchre and has risen and ascended into Heaven; He is beside 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, 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 blessing, to ask for mercy! He always forgives us, he is our advocate: he always defends us! Do not forget this! Jesus's Ascension into heaven makes us know this very consoling reality for our pathway: in Christ, true God and true man, our humanity has been brought to God; He has opened the passage for us; He is like a roped leader when one climbs a mountain, who has reached the summit and attracts us up to Him in leading us to God. If we entrust our life to Him, if we let ourselves be guided by Him, we are certain to be in safe hands, in the hands of our saviour, our advocate.

A second element: St Luke reports that the Apostles, after having seen Jesus ascend to heaven, returned to Jerusalem “with great joy”. This seems a little strange/bit odd to us. In general when we are separated from our family, from our friends, by 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 the Apostles' profound joy. But why? Precisely because, with the gaze of faith, they understand that, although withdrawn from their eyes, Jesus remains forever with them, he does not abandon them and, in the glory of the Father, He supports them, guides them and intercedes for them.

St Luke narrates the fact of the Ascension also at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, so as to underline that this event is like the ring that hooks and connects the earthly life of Jesus to that of the Church. Here St Luke also mentions 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 who invited them not to remain immobile 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 have seen him go up to heaven (cf Acts 1, 10-11). It is precisely the invitation to start from the contemplation of the Lordship of Christ, so as to have from Him the strength to carry and witness to the Gospel in everyday life: to contemplate and to act, ora et labora as St Benedict teaches, are both necessary in our life as Christians.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Ascension does not indicate the absence of Jesus, but tells us that He is alive in our midst in a new way; He is no longer in a precise 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 life 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 obscurity, in their family and work life, in their problems and difficulties, in their joys and hopes, live faith daily and together with us bring to the world the lordship of God’s love, in Jesus Christ risen, ascended into Heaven, advocate for us. Thank you."


"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!

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.

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!

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!

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

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.

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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.

I hope that this Easter time will be a profound invitation to everyone to renew their life, putting it at the service of the Gospel.

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.

Lastly I greet the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. May the Risen Lord fill with his love the heart of each one of you, dear young people, of you students, today so numerous, so that you may be ready to follow him with enthusiasm. One cannot understand a young person without enthusiasm! Follow the Lord with enthusiasm, let him guide you. May he sustain you, dear sick people, so that you may accept the burden of suffering serenely; and may he guide you, dear newlyweds, so that your family will grow in holiness, after the model of the Holy Family."


"I learned with sorrow of the violent earthquake that hit the peoples of Iran and Pakistan, sowing death, suffering and destruction. I raise a prayer to God for the victims and for all those who are suffering, and I want to express my closeness to the Iranian and Pakistani peoples. Thank you."