VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis proclaimed “we are never alone” and that Jesus is our defender, as he reflected on the Ascension during his Wednesday general audience.
“We are never alone in our lives; we have this advocate who waits for us,” the Pope told tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered at St. Peter’s Square to participate in his April 17 audience.
The Pope centered his teaching on the line from the Creed that says, “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”
Pope Francis is continuing Benedict XVI’s practice of reflecting on the Catholic statement of belief at his weekly general audiences as part of the Year of Faith.
“We are never alone; the crucified and risen Lord guides us, and there are many brothers and sisters with us,” he stated.
These Christians “live their faith every day and bring to the world the lordship of God’s love together with us, in silence and obscurity, in their family life and work, in their problems and difficulties, in their joys and hopes,” he said.
Jesus’ ascension into heaven does not mean he is absent, Pope Francis asserted.
Instead, it tells us that he is alive among us “in a new way.”
“The ascension of Jesus into heaven, then, reveals to us this reality that is so comforting for our journey: [that] in Christ, true God and true man, our humanity was brought to God,” he remarked.
Jesus “has opened the passage up for us,” the Pope said, comparing Christ to a mountaineer who leads the climb up the rock face, has reached the summit and “draws us up to him, leading us to God.”
“If we entrust our lives to him, if we let ourselves be guided by him, we are sure to be in safe hands, in the hands of our Savior, our advocate,” the Pope said.
“Jesus is the only and eternal Priest, who passed through death and the tomb and rose again and ascended into heaven,” he explained. “He is with God the Father, where he always intercedes in our favor.”
Pope Francis noted that Jesus is no longer “in a definite place in the world, as he was before the Ascension.
“He is now in the lordship of God, present in all space and time, next to each of us.”
But the Pope underscored that entering “into the glory of God requires daily fidelity to his will, even when it requires sacrifice, when at times it requires us to change our plans.”
A prime example of how to be faithful to the Lord can be seen in Jesus’ ascension, which happened on the Mount of Olives, near the place where he had retired in prayer before his passion “to be in profound union with the Father.”
“Once again,” the Pope noted, “we see that prayer gives us the grace to live faithfully to the project of God.”
He advised the pilgrims to not be afraid to turn to Jesus with their fears and ask for his blessing and mercy.
“He always forgives us; he is our advocate,” Francis said. “He always defends us; [and] we must never forget this.”