FAITH IN CHRIST TRANSFORMS OUR LIVES, FREES US FROM FEAR AND FILLS US WITH HOPE
Vatican City, 11 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to the transformation which Jesus' Resurrection brought about in His disciples, also reflecting on the meaning that Easter has for Christians today. Faith in the Risen One, he said, "transforms our lives; it frees them from fear, gives them firm hope, and infuses them with something that provides existence with full meaning: the love of God". (image source : Radio Vaticana)
Benedict XVI explained how on the evening of the day of the Resurrection the disciples were at home behind locked doors, full of fear and doubt at the recollection of the passion of their Lord. "This situation of anguish changed radically when Jesus arrived. He entered through the closed doors, was among them and brought them peace", peace which "for the community became source of joy, certainty of victory, trusting reliance on God".
After His greeting, Jesus showed His wounds to the disciples, "signs of what had befallen and would never be cancelled. His glorious humanity remained 'wounded'. The gesture had the aim of confirming the new reality of the Resurrection. The Christ Who returned among His followers was a real person, the same Jesus Who three days earlier had been nailed to the cross. Thus, in the shining light of Easter, in the meeting with the Risen One, the disciples came to understand the salvific meaning of His passion and death. Then sadness and fear became overwhelming joy".
Jesus greeted them again: "Peace be with you". Yet this, the Pope explained, was not just a greeting, "it was a gift, the gift the Risen One made to His friends. At the same time it was a commission: the peace which Christ had bought with His blood was for them, but it was also for everyone else, and the disciples would have to carry it throughout the world". Jesus "had completed His mission in the world, now it was up to them to to sow faith in people's hearts".
However, the Lord knew that His followers were still afraid. "For this reason He breathed upon them and regenerated them in His Spirit. This gesture was the sign of the new creation. With the gift of the Holy Spirit which came from the Risen Christ, a new world began".
"Today too the Risen One enters our homes and hearts, although sometimes the doors are closed", the Pope said, "He enters bringing joy and peace, life and hope, gifts we need for our human and spiritual rebirth". Only He can put an end to division, enmity, rancour, envy, mistrust and indifference. Only He can give meaning to the lives of those who are weary, sad and without hope.
This was the experience of the two disciples who were walking to Emmaus, full of foreboding at the recent death of their Master. Jesus came up to them and accompanied them without being recognised, explaining the meaning of Sacred Scripture to help them understand His salvific mission. Later they asked Jesus to stay with them and recognised him as He blessed and broke the bread. "This episode", said the Holy Father, "shows us two privileged 'places' in which we can meet the Risen One Who transforms our lives: ... the Word and the Eucharist".
The disciples of Emmaus returned to Jerusalem to join the others. "Their enthusiasm for the faith was reborn, their love for the community and their need to communicate the good news. The Master rose and with Him all life resurges. Bearing witness to this event became an irrepressible need for them".
For Christians, Easter must be a time for the joyful and enthusiastic rediscovery of the sources of the faith. "This means following the same path as that along which Jesus directed the two disciples of Emmaus, through the rediscovery of the Word of God and the Eucharist. The culmination of this journey, then as now, is Eucharistic communion. In communion Jesus nourishes us with His Body and His Blood, becoming present in our lives, making us new and animating us with the power of the Holy Spirit".
In conclusion the Holy Father invited Christians to remain faithful to the Risen One Who "living and true, is always present among us, Who walks with us to guide our lives", and Who "has the power to give life, to make us reborn as children of God, capable of believing and loving".
HIS BEATITUDE CARDINAL IGNACE MOUSSA I DAOUD, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and patriarch emeritus of Antioch of the Syrians, died in Rome on 7 April at the age of 82. In a telegram of condolence sent to His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Benedict XVI expresses his closeness to that patriarchal Church of which the deceased was "a committed pastor". The Pope also mentions the peoples of the region, who are currently experiencing moments of great difficulty. The cardinal's funeral was held in St. Peter's Basilica on 10 April.
A LETTER WAS MADE PUBLIC ON 7 APRIL in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, as his special envoy to the opening celebrations for the pilgrimage of the "Holy Robe", marking the fifth centenary of the first public display of the relic. The event will be held in the cathedral of Trier, Germany on 13 April, the cardinal will be accompanied on his mission by Msgr. Rainer Scherschel and Fr. Reinhold Bohlen, canons of the cathedral.
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
Vatican City, 7 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, as pontifical legate for the celebration of the fiftieth International Eucharistic Congress, which is due to take place in Dublin, Ireland, from 10 to 17 June.
POPE HIGHLIGHTS THE SPECIAL BOND WOMEN HAVE WITH JESUS
Vatican City, 9 April 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday evening the Holy Father travelled to his residence at Castelgandolfo outside Rome for a brief period of rest. At midday today he appeared on the balcony of the apostolic palace there to pray the Regina Coeli with faithful gathered below in the building's internal courtyard. The Regina Coeli replaces the Angelus during the Easter season.
"In many countries Easter Monday is a holiday. People make trips to the countryside, or mover further afield to visit relatives and to be together as a family. However I would like Christians to keep the reason for this holiday in their minds and hearts: the Resurrection of Christ, the definitive mystery of our faith", the Pope said.
"The moment of the resurrection per se is not described by the Evangelists. It remains a mystery, not in the sense that it is less real, but that it is hidden, beyond the scope of our understanding, like a light so bright that we cannot look at it without our eyes being blinded. The narratives begin when, at dawn on the day after the Saturday, the women went to the tomb and found it open and empty. ... Having received the announcement of the resurrection from the Angel they ran, full of fear and joy, to give the news to the disciples. At that very moment they met Jesus, bowing before His feet and worshipping Him as He said: 'Do not be afraid, go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me'.
"All the Gospels dedicate a lot of space to the women in the narratives of the apparitions of the Risen Jesus, just as they do in those of His passion and death. In Israel at that time the testimony of women did not have official juridical weight, but women experienced a special bond with the Lord and this is fundamental for the real life of the Christian community, in all times and ages, not just in the early days of the Church".
The Pope concluded by recalling that the model for this relationship with Jesus, especially in the Easter mystery, is Mary, Mother of the Lord. "Through the transforming experience of her Son's passion, the Virgin Mary also became Mother of the Church; that is, of each believer and of the entire community".