Pointing upwards, the pope said emphatically: “He is the first man to enter heaven, because Jesus is man, true man, he is God, true God; our flesh is in heaven and this gives us joy.”
“At the right hand of the Father now sits a human body, for the first time, the body of Jesus, and in this mystery each of us contemplates our future destination. This is not at all an abandonment; Jesus remains forever with the disciples, with us.”
The pope said that this should give Christians not only a sense of security but also of joy because Jesus promised to send his Holy Spirit.
“Jesus has gone to heaven: the first man before the Father. He left with the wounds which were the price of our salvation, and he prays for us. And then he sends us the Holy Spirit, he promises us the Holy Spirit, to go and evangelize. Hence the joy of today, hence the joy of this Ascension Day,” he said.
“Brothers and sisters, on this feast of the Ascension, as we contemplate heaven, where Christ has ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father, let us ask Mary, Queen of Heaven, to help us to be courageous witnesses of the Risen Lord in the world in the concrete situations of life.”
After praying the Regina Coeli, the pope noted that Sunday was the start of “Laudato si’ Week,” inspired by his 2015 environmental encyclical and organized by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
He also asked for a round of applause in honor of the German priest Francis Mary of the Cross Jordan, who was declared blessed in Rome on May 15.
“May his apostolic zeal be an example and guide to all those in the Church who are called to bring the word and love of Jesus to every environment,” the pope said, pointing out a group of pilgrims holding a large image of the new blessed and waving white scarves.