Resurrection

Resurrection - Pope Francis     

 03.04.13  General Audience   St Peter's Square       Catechesis on the Creed


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning,

Today let us take up the Catechesis of the
Year of Faith. In the Creed we repeat these words: "and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures". This is the very event that we are celebrating: the Resurrection of Jesus, the centre of the Christian message which has echoed from the beginning and was passed on so that it would come down to us. St Paul wrote to the Christians of Corinth: "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve" (1 Cor 15:3-5). This brief profession of faith proclaims the Paschal Mystery itself with the first appearances of the Risen One to Peter and the Twelve: the death and Resurrection of Jesus are the very heart of our hope.

Without this faith in the death and Resurrection of Jesus our hope would be weak; but it would not even be hope; or precisely the death and Resurrection of Jesus are the heart of our hope. The Apostle said: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (v. 17). Unfortunately, efforts have often been made to blur faith in the Resurrection of Jesus and doubts have crept in, even among believers. It is a little like that "rosewater" faith, as we say; it is not a strong faith. And this is due to superficiality and sometimes to indifference, busy as we are with a thousand things considered more important than faith, or because we have a view of life that is solely horizontal. However, it is the Resurrection itself that opens us to greater hope, for it opens our life and the life of the world to the eternal future of God, to full happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin and death may be overcome. And this leads to living daily situations with greater trust, to facing them with courage and determination. Christ’s Resurrection illuminates these everyday situations with a new light. The Resurrection of Christ is our strength!

But how was the truth of faith in Christ’s Resurrection passed down to us? There are two kinds of testimony in the New Testament: some are in the form of a profession of faith, that is, of concise formulas that indicate the centre of faith; while others are in the form of an account of the event of the Resurrection and of the facts connected with it.

The former, in the form of a profession of faith, for example, is the one we have just heard, or that of the Letter to the Romans in which St Paul wrote: "if you confess with your lips that ‘Jesus is Lord!’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (10:9). From the Church’s very first steps faith in the Mystery of the death and Resurrection of Christ is firm and clear. Today, however, I would like to reflect on the latter, on the testimonies in the form of a narrative which we find in the Gospels. First of all let us note that the first witnesses of this event were the women. At dawn they went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body and found the first sign: the empty tomb (cf. Mk 16:1). Their meeting with a messenger of God followed. He announced: "Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One, has risen, he is not here" (cf. vv. 5-6). The women were motivated by love and were able to accept this announcement with faith: they believed and passed it on straight away, they did not keep it to themselves but passed it on.

They could not contain their joy in knowing that Jesus was alive, or the hope that filled their hearts. This should happen in our lives too. Let us feel the joy of being Christian! We believe in the Risen One who conquered evil and death! Let us have the courage to "come out of ourselves" to take this joy and this light to all the places of our life! The Resurrection of Christ is our greatest certainty; he is our most precious treasure! How can we not share this treasure, this certainty with others? It is not only for us, it is to be passed on, to be shared with others. Our testimony is precisely this.

Another point: in the profession of faith in the New Testament only men are recorded as witnesses of the Resurrection, the Apostles, but not the women. This is because, according to the Judaic Law of that time, women and children could not bear a trustworthy, credible witness. Instead in the Gospels women play a fundamental lead role. Here we can grasp an element in favour of the historicity of the Resurrection: if it was an invented event, in the context of that time it would not have been linked with the evidence of women. Instead the Evangelists simply recounted what happened: women were the first witnesses. This implies that God does not choose in accordance with human criteria: the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus were shepherds, simple, humble people; the first witnesses of the Resurrection were women. And this is beautiful. This is part of the mission of women; of mothers, of women! Witnessing to their children, to their grandchildren, that Jesus is alive, is living, is risen. Mothers and women, carry on witnessing to this! It is the heart that counts for God, how open to him we are, whether we are like trusting children.

However this also makes us think about how women, in the Church and on the journey of faith, had and still have today a special role in opening the doors to the Lord, in following him and in communicating his Face, for the gaze of faith is always in need of the simple and profound gaze of love.

The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe. The women, not so. Peter runs to the tomb but stops at the empty tomb; Thomas has to touch the wounds on Jesus’ body with his hands. On our way of faith it is also important to know and to feel that God loves us and not to be afraid to love him. Faith is professed with the lips and with the heart, with words and with love.

After his appearances to the women, others follow. Jesus makes himself present in a new way, he is the Crucified One but his body is glorified; he did not return to earthly life but returned in a new condition. At first they do not recognize him and it is only through his words and gestures that their eyes are opened. The meeting with the Risen One transforms, it gives faith fresh strength and a steadfast foundation. For us too there are many signs through which the Risen One makes himself known: Sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, the other Sacraments, charity, all those acts of love which bring a ray of the Risen One. Let us permit ourselves to be illuminated by Christ’s Resurrection, let him transform us with his power, so that through us too the signs of death may give way to signs of life in the world.

I see that there are large numbers of young people in the square. There you are! I say to you: carry this certainty ahead: the Lord is alive and walks beside you through life. This is your mission! Carry this hope onwards. May you be anchored to this hope: this anchor which is in heaven; hold the rope firmly, be anchored and carry hope forward. You, witnesses of Jesus, pass on the witness that Jesus is alive and this will give us hope, it will give hope to this world, which has aged somewhat, because of wars, because of evil and because of sin. Press on, young people!



Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today I wish to return to the affirmation “I believe in the resurrection of the body”. This is not a simple truth and it is anything but obvious; living immersed in this world it is not easy for us to fathom a future reality. But the Gospel enlightens us: our resurrection is strictly bound to Jesus’ Resurrection. The fact that he is risen is the proof that there is a resurrection of the dead. I would like to present several aspects regarding the relation between the Resurrection of Christ and our resurrection. He is risen, and because he rose, we too will be raised.

First, Sacred Scripture itself contains a path towards full faith in the resurrection of the dead. This is expressed as faith in God as creator of the whole man, soul and body, and as faith in God the Liberator, the God who is faithful to the covenant with his people. The Prophet Ezekiel, in a vision, contemplates the graves of the exiled which are reopened and whose dry bones come back to life thanks to the breath of a living spirit. This vision expresses hope in the future “resurrection of Israel”, that is, the rebirth of a people defeated and humiliated (cf. Ez 37:1-14).

Jesus, in the New Testament, brings to fulfilment this revelation, and ties faith in the resurrection to his own person and says: “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25). It will be our Lord Jesus who on the last day raises those who have believed in him. Jesus has come among us, he became man like us in all things, except sin; in this way he took us with him on his return journey to the Father. He, the Word Incarnate, who died for us and rose again, gives to his disciples the Holy Spirit as a pledge of full communion in his glorious Kingdom, which we vigilantly await. This waiting is the source and reason for our hope: a hope that, if cultivated and guarded — our hope, if we cultivate and guard it — becomes a light that illumines our common history. Let us remember it always: we are disciples of the One who came, who comes everyday and who will come at the end. If we can manage to be more aware of this reality, we will be less fatigued by daily life, less prisoners of the ephemeral and more disposed to walk with a merciful heart on the way of salvation.

Another aspect: What does it mean to rise again? The resurrection of us all will take place on the last day, at the end of the world, through the omnipotence of God, who will return life to our bodies by reuniting them to our souls, through the power of Jesus’ Resurrection. This is the fundamental explanation: because Jesus rose we will rise; we have the hope of resurrection because he has opened to us the door of resurrection. And this transformation, this transfiguration of our bodies is prepared for in this life by our relationship with Jesus, in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. We, who are nourished in this life by his Body and by his Blood shall rise again like him, with him and through him. As Jesus rose with his own body but did not return to this earthly life, so we will be raised again with our own bodies which will be transfigured into glorified bodies. This is not a lie! This is true. We believe that Jesus is Risen, that Jesus is living at this moment. But do you believe that Jesus is alive? And if Jesus is alive, do you think that he will let us die and not make us rise? No! He is waiting for us, and because He is risen, the power of his resurrection will raise us all.

A last element: already in this life we have within us a participation in the Resurrection of Christ. If it is true that Jesus will raise us at the end of time, it is also true that, in a certain way, with him we have already risen. Eternal life has already begun in this moment, it begins during our lifetime, which is oriented to that moment of final resurrection. And we are already raised, in fact, through Baptism; we are inserted in the death and resurrection of Christ and we participate in the new life, in his life. Therefore, as we await the last day, we have within us a seed of resurrection, as an anticipation of the full resurrection which we shall receive as an inheritance. For this reason too, the body of each one of us is an echo of eternity, thus it should always be respected; and in particular, the life of those who suffer should be respected and loved, that they may feel the closeness of the Kingdom of God, of that state of eternal life towards which we are journeying. This thought gives us hope: we are walking toward the resurrection. To see Jesus, to encounter Jesus: this is our joy! We will all be together — not here in the Square, or elsewhere — joyful with Jesus. This is our destiny!



Pope Francis   06.04.15       Regina Caeli,  St Peter's Square      Matthew 28: 8-15

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning and Happy Easter,

On this Easter Monday the Gospel (cf. Mt 28:8-15) presents to us the narrative of the women who, on arriving at Jesus’ tomb, find it empty and see an Angel who announces to them that He is risen. And as they run to tell this news to the disciples, they encounter Jesus himself who says to them: “Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (v. 10). Galilee is the “periphery” where Jesus began his preaching; and from there He will share the Gospel of the Resurrection, for it to be proclaimed to all, and that everyone might encounter Him, the Risen One, present and working in history. Today too He is with us, here in the Square.

This, therefore, is the proclamation that the Church repeats from the first day: “Christ is risen!”. And, in Him, through Baptism, we too are risen, we have passed from death to life, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of love. Behold the Good News that we are called to take to others and to every place, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus and the hope that He brought us is the most beautiful gift that the Christian can and must give to his brothers. To all and to each, therefore, let us not tire of saying: Christ is risen! Let us repeat it all together, today here in the Square: Christ is risen! Let us repeat it with words, but above all with the witness of our lives. The happy news of the Resurrection should shine on our faces, in our feelings and attitudes, in the way we treat others.

We proclaim the Resurrection of Christ when his light illuminates the dark moments of our life and we can share that with others: when we know how to smile with those who smile and weep with those who weep; when we walk beside those who are sad and in danger of losing hope; when we recount our experience of faith with those who are searching for meaning and for happiness. With our attitude, with our witness, with our life, we say: Jesus is risen! Let us say it with all our soul.

We are in days of the Easter Octave, during which the joyful atmosphere of the Resurrection accompanies us. It’s curious how the Liturgy considers the entire Octave as one single day, in order to help us centre into the Mystery, so that his grace may impress itself on our hearts and our lives. Easter is the event that brought radical news for every human being, for history and for the world: the triumph of life over death; it is the feast of reawakening and of rebirth. Let us allow our lives to be conquered and transformed by the Resurrection!

Let us ask the Virgin Mother, the silent witness of the death and Resurrection of her Son, to foster the growth of Paschal joy in us. Let us do it now with the recitation of the Regina Caeli, which in the Easter Season substitutes the prayer of the Angelus. In this prayer, expressed by the Alleluia, we turn to Mary inviting her to rejoice, because the One whom she carried in her womb is Risen as He promised, and we entrust ourselves to her intercession. In fact, our joy is a reflection of Mary’s joy, for it is she who guarded and guards with faith the events of Jesus. Let us therefore recite this prayer with the emotion of children who are happy because their mother is happy.



Pope Francis   05.06.16     Angelus, St Peter's Square    1 Kings 17: 17-14,     Galatians 1: 11-19,     Luke 7: 11-17     Psalms 30: 2,4-6, 11-13
   
The word of God, which we have just heard, points us to the central event of our faith: God’s victory over suffering and death. It proclaims the Gospel of hope, born of Christ’s paschal mystery, whose splendour is seen on the face of the Risen Lord and reveals God our Father as one who comforts all of us in our afflictions. That word calls us to remain united to the Passion of the Lord Jesus, so that the power of his resurrection may be revealed in us.

In the Passion of Christ, we find God’s response to the desperate and at times indignant cry that the experience of pain and death evokes in us. He tells us that we cannot flee from the Cross, but must remain at its foot, as Our Lady did. In suffering with Jesus, she received the grace of hoping against all hope (cf. Rom 4:18).

This was the experience of Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary, and Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad, who today are proclaimed saints. They remained deeply united to the passion of Jesus, and in them the power of his resurrection was revealed.

This Sunday’s first reading and Gospel offer us amazing signs of death and resurrection. The first took place at the hand of the Prophet Isaiah, the second by Jesus. In both cases, they involved the young children of widows, who were then given back alive to their mothers.

The widow of Zarephath — a woman who was not a Jew, yet had received the Prophet Elijah in her home — was upset with the prophet and with God, because when Elijah was a guest in her home her child had taken ill and had died in her arms. Elijah says to her: “Give me your son” (1 Kings 17:19). What he says is significant. His words tell us something about God’s response to our own death, however it may come about. He does not say: “Hold on to it; sort it out yourself!” Instead, he says: “Give it to me”. And indeed the prophet takes the child and carries him to the upper room, and there, by himself, in prayer “fights with God”, pointing out to him the absurdity of that death. The Lord heard the voice of Elijah, for it was in fact he, God, who spoke and acted in the person of the prophet. It was God who, speaking through Elijah, told the woman: “Give me your son”. And now it was God who gave the child back alive to his mother.

God’s tenderness is fully revealed in Jesus. We heard in the Gospel (Lk 7:11-17) of the “great compassion” (v. 13) which Jesus felt for the widow of Nain in Galilee, who was accompanying her only son, a mere adolescent, to his burial. Jesus draws close, touches the bier, stops the funeral procession, and must have caressed that poor mother’s face bathed in tears. “Do not weep”, he says to her (Lk 7:13), as to say: “Give me your son”. Jesus asks to takes our death upon himself, to free us from it and to restore our life. The young man then awoke as if from a deep sleep and began to speak. Jesus “gave him to his mother” (v. 15). Jesus is no wizard! It is God’s tenderness incarnate; the Father’s immense compassion is at work in Jesus.

The experience of the Apostle Paul was also a kind of resurrection. From a fierce enemy and persecutor of Christians, he became a witness and herald of the Gospel (cf. Gal 1:13-17). This radical change was not his own work, but a gift of God’s mercy. God “chose” him and “called him by his grace”. “In him”, God desired to reveal his Son, so that Paul might proclaim Christ among the Gentiles (vv. 15-16). Paul says that God the Father was pleased to reveal his Son not only to him, but in him, impressing as it were in his own person, flesh and spirit, the death and resurrection of Christ. As a result, the Apostle was not only to be a messenger, but above all a witness.

So it is with each and every
sinner. Jesus constantly makes the victory of life-giving grace shine forth. Today, and every day, he says to Mother Church: “Give me your children”, which means all of us. He takes our sins upon himself, takes them away and gives us back alive to the Mother Church. All that happens in a special way during this Holy Year of Mercy.

The Church today offers us two of her children who are exemplary witnesses to this mystery of resurrection. Both can sing forever in the words of the Psalmist: “You have changed my mourning into dancing / O Lord, my God, I will thank you forever” (Ps 30:12). Let us all join in saying: “I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up” (Antiphon of the Responsorial Psalm).



Pope Francis     Easter Vigil20.04.19 St Peter's Basilica      Luke 24: 1-12
Pope Francis 20.04.19 Easter Vigil
      
The women bring spices to the tomb, but they fear that their journey is in vain, since a large stone bars the entrance to the sepulchre. The journey of those women is also our own journey; it resembles the journey of salvation that we have made this evening. At times, it seems that everything comes up against a stone: the beauty of creation against the tragedy of sin; liberation from slavery against infidelity to the covenant; the promises of the prophets against the listless indifference of the people. So too, in the history of the Church and in our own personal history. It seems that the steps we take never take us to the goal. We can be tempted to think that dashed hope is the bleak law of life.

Today however we see that our journey is not in vain; it does not come up against a tombstone. A single phrase astounds the woman and changes history: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Lk 24:5). Why do you think that everything is hopeless, that no one can take away your own tombstones? Why do you give into resignation and failure? Easter is the feast of tombstones taken away, rocks rolled aside. God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness. Human history does not end before a tombstone, because today it encounters the “living stone” (cf. 1 Pet 2:4),
the risen Jesus. We, as Church, are built on him, and, even when we grow disheartened and tempted to judge everything in the light of our failures, he comes to make all things new, to overturn our every disappointment. Each of us is called tonight to rediscover in the Risen Christ the one who rolls back from our heart the heaviest of stones. So let us first ask: What is the stone that I need to remove, what is its name?


Often what blocks hope is the stone of
discouragement. Once we start thinking that everything is going badly and that things can’t get worse, we lose heart and come to believe that death is stronger than life. We become cynical, negative and despondent. Stone upon stone, we build within ourselves a monument to our own dissatisfaction: the sepulchre of hope. Life becomes a succession of complaints and we grow sick in spirit. A kind of tomb psychology takes over: everything ends there, with no hope of emerging alive. But at that moment, we hear once more the insistent question of Easter: Why do you seek the living among the dead? The Lord is not to be found in resignation. He is risen; he is not there. Don’t seek him where you will never find him: he is not the God of the dead but of the living (cf. Mk 22:32). Do not bury hope!

There is another stone that often seals the heart shut: the stone of
sin. Sin seduces; it promises things easy and quick, prosperity and success, but then leaves behind only solitude and death. Sin is looking for life among the dead, for the meaning of life in things that pass away. Why do you seek the living among the dead? Why not make up your mind to abandon that sin which, like a stone before the entrance to your heart, keeps God’s light from entering in? Why not prefer Jesus, the true light (cf. Jn1:9), to the glitter of wealth, career, pride and pleasure? Why not tell the empty things of this world that you no longer live for them, but for the Lord of life?

Let us return to the women who went to Jesus’ tomb. They halted in amazement before the stone that was taken away. Seeing the angels, they stood there, the Gospel tells us, “frightened, and bowed their faces to the ground” (Lk 24:5). They did not have the courage to look up. How often do we do the same thing? We prefer to remain huddled within our shortcomings, cowering in our fears. It is odd, but why do we do this? Not infrequently because, glum and closed up within ourselves, we feel in control, for it is easier to remain alone in the darkness of our heart than to open ourselves to the Lord. Yet only he can raise us up. A poet once wrote: “We never know how high we are. Till we are called to rise” (E. Dickinson). The Lord calls us to get up, to rise at his word, to look up and to realize that we were made for heaven, not for earth, for the heights of life and not for the depths of death: Why do you seek the living among the dead?

God asks us to view life as he views it, for in each of us he never ceases to see an irrepressible kernel of beauty. In sin, he sees sons and daughters to be restored; in death, brothers and sisters to be reborn; in desolation, hearts to be revived. Do not fear, then: the Lord loves your life, even when you are afraid to look at it and take it in hand. In Easter he shows you how much he loves that life: even to the point of living it completely, experiencing anguish, abandonment, death and hell, in order to emerge triumphant to tell you: “You are not
alone; put your trust in me!”.

Jesus is a specialist at turning our deaths into life, our mourning into dancing (cf. Ps 30:11). With him, we too can experience a Pasch, that is, a Passover– from self-centredness to communion, from desolation to consolation, from fear to confidence. Let us not keep our faces bowed to the ground in fear, but raise our eyes to the risen Jesus. His gaze fills us with hope, for it tells us that we are loved unfailingly, and that however much we make a mess of things, his love remains unchanged. This is the one, non-negotiable certitude we have in life: his love does not change. Let us ask ourselves: In my life, where am I looking? Am I gazing at graveyards, or looking for the Living One?  

Why do you seek the living among the dead? The women hear the words of the angels, who go on to say: “Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee” (Lk 24:6). Those woman had lost hope, because they could not recall the words of Jesus, his call that took place in Galilee. Having lost the living memory of Jesus, they kept looking at the tomb. Faith always needs to go back to Galilee, to reawaken its first love for Jesus and his call: to remember him, to turn back to him with all our mind and all our heart. To return to a lively love of the Lord is essential. Otherwise, ours is a “museum” faith, not an Easter faith. Jesus is not a personage from the past; he is a person living today. We do not know him from history books; we encounter him in life. Today, let us remember how Jesus first called us, how he overcame our darkness, our resistance, our sins, and how he touched our hearts with his word.

The women, remembering Jesus, left the tomb. Easter teaches us that believers do not linger at graveyards, for they are called to go forth to meet the Living One. Let us ask ourselves : In my life, where am I going? Sometimes we go only in the direction of
our problems, of which there are plenty, and go to the Lord only for help. But then, it is our own needs, not Jesus, to guide our steps. We keep seeking the Living One among the dead. Or again, how many times, once we have encountered the Lord, do we return to the dead, digging up regrets, reproaches, hurts and dissatisfactions, without letting the Risen One change us?

Dear brothers and sisters: let us put the Living One at the centre of our lives. Let us ask for the grace not to be carried by the current, the sea of our problems; the grace not to run aground on the shoals of sin or crash on the reefs of discouragement and fear. Let us seek him in all things and above all things. With him, we will rise again.


Pope Francis Regina Coeli 22.04.19

Today and throughout this week, the Easter joy of the Resurrection of Jesus, the wonderful event we commemorated yesterday, will continue.

During the Easter Vigil, the words spoken by the Angels at the empty tomb of Christ resounded. To the women who had gone to the tomb at dawn on the first day after the Sabbath, they said: "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, He is risen". The Resurrection of Christ is the most shocking event in human history, attesting to the victory of God's Love over sin and death and giving our hope of life a rock-sold foundation. What was humanly unthinkable happened: "Jesus of Nazareth…God raised Him up, freeing Him from the pains of death".

On this Easter Monday (in Italian "Monday of the Angel"), the liturgy, with the Gospel of Matthew, takes us back to the empty tomb of Jesus. The women, full of awe and joy, are leaving in a hurry to go and bring the news to the disciples; and at that moment Jesus presents Himself before them. They "came up to Him and, falling down before Him, clasped His feet". Jesus drives fear out of their hearts and encourages them even more to announce to their brothers and sisters what has happened. All the Gospels emphasize the role of women, Mary of Magdala and the others, as the first witnesses of the resurrection. The men were frightened, they were closed in the Upper Room. Peter and John, advised by Mary Magdalene, only went out briefly and saw that the tomb was open and empty. But it was the women who were the first to meet the Risen One and to bring the message that He was alive.

Today, dear brothers and sisters, the words of Jesus addressed to the women resound for us too: "Do not be afraid; go and proclaim...". After the liturgies of the Easter Triduum, which allowed us to relive the mystery of our Lord's death and resurrection, now with the eyes of faith, we contemplate Him risen and alive. We too are called to meet Him personally and to become His heralds and witnesses.

With the ancient Easter Sequence, we repeat during these days: "Christ, my hope, is risen!”. In Him we too have risen, passing from death to life, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of love. Let us therefore allow ourselves to be touched by the consoling message of Easter and be enveloped by its glorious light, which dispels the darkness of fear and sadness. The risen Jesus walks beside us. He manifests Himself to those who call on Him and who love Him. First of all in prayer, but also in simple joys lived with faith and gratitude. We can also feel His presence when we share moments of cordiality, welcome, and friendship, or when we contemplate nature. May this feast day, on which it is traditional to enjoy some leisure and free time, help us to experience the presence of Jesus.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary to help us draw with full hands the gifts of peace and serenity of the Risen One, and to share them with our brothers and sisters, especially with those who most need comfort and hope.