Pope Francis rides through St. Peter's Square following today's General Audience (photo from Vatican Radio).
Below is Vatican
Radio’s translation of Pope Francis’ Wednesday General Audience address,
delivered today in St. Peter’s Square.
Brothers and Sisters,
we turn to the Catechism of the Year of Faith. In the Creed we repeat this
phrase: "He 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 center of the Christian message that has resounded
since the beginning and has been handed down so that it may reach us today.
Saint Paul writes to the Christians of Corinth: "For I handed on to you…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; that he appeared to
Cephas, then to the Twelve"(1 Cor 15:3-5). This brief confession of faith
announces the Paschal Mystery, with the first appearances of the Risen Christ
to Peter and the Twelve: the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is the heart of
our hope. Without this faith in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus our hope
would be weak, but it wouldn’t even be hope, the Death and Resurrection of
Jesus is the heart of our hope. The Apostle says: "If Christ has not been
raised, your faith is vain;
you are still in your sins" (v. 17).
there have often been attempts to obscure faith in the Resurrection of Jesus,
and doubts have crept in even among believers themselves. A watered down faith,
as we would say, not a strong faith. This is because of superficiality,
sometimes because of indifference, occupied by a thousand things considered
more important than the faith, or because of a purely horizontal vision of
life. But it is the Resurrection that gives us the greatest hope, because it
opens our lives and the life of the world to the eternal future of God, to full
happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin, death can be defeated. And this
leads us to live everyday realities with more confidence, to face them with
courage and commitment. The Resurrection of Christ shines a new light on these
daily realities. The Resurrection of Christ is our strength!
how was the truth of faith in Christ’s Resurrection transmitted? There are two
kinds of witness in the New Testament: some are in the form of the profession
of the faith, namely, synthetic formulas that indicate the center of the faith.
Instead, others are in the form of an account of the event of the Resurrection
and the facts connected to it. The form of the profession of faith, for
example, is what we have just heard, or that of the Letter to the Romans where
Paul writes: "for, if you confess with your mouth
that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved" (10.9). From the earliest days of the Church, faith in
the Mystery of Death and Resurrection of Jesus is steadfast and clear.
however, I would like to dwell the second, on testimony in the form of the
accounts that we find in the Gospels. First, we note that the first witnesses
to this event were the women. At dawn, they go to the tomb to anoint the body
of Jesus, and find the first sign: the empty tomb (Mk 16:1). This is followed
by an encounter with a Messenger of God who proclaims: Jesus of Nazareth, the
Crucified One, he is not here, he is risen (cf. vv. 5-6). The women are driven
by love and know how to accept this proclamation with faith: they believe, and
immediately transmit it, they do not keep it for themselves. They cannot
contain the joy of knowing that Jesus is alive, the hope that fills their
heart. This should also be the same in our lives. Let us feel the joy of being
Christian! We believe in the Risen One who has conquered evil and death! Let us
also have the courage to "go out" to bring this joy and light to all
the places of our lives! The Resurrection of Christ is our greatest certainty,
it is our most precious treasure! How can we not share this treasure, this
beautiful certainty with others! It’s not just for us it’s to be transmitted,
shared with others this is our testimony!
element. In the professions of faith of the New Testament, only men are
remembered as witnesses of the Resurrection, the Apostles, but not the women.
This is because, according to the Jewish Law of the time, women and children
were not considered reliable, credible witnesses. In the Gospels, however,
women have a primary, fundamental role. Here we can see an argument in favor of
the historicity of the Resurrection: if it were a invented, in the context of
that time it would not have been linked to the testimony of women. Instead, the
evangelists simply narrate what happened: the women were the first witnesses.
This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria: the first
witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people,
the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women. This is beautiful, and this
is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their
children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen! Mothers go forward with this
witness! What matters to God is our heart, if we are open to Him, if we are
like trusting children. But this also leads us to reflect on how in the Church
and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in
opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because
the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love. The
Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the
women however! Peter runs to the tomb, but stops before the empty tomb; Thomas
has to touch the wounds of the body of Jesus with his hands. In our journey of
faith it is important to know and feel that God loves us, do not be afraid to
love: faith is professed with the mouth and heart, with the word and love.
the apparitions to women, there were others: Jesus becomes present in a new
way: He is the Crucified One, but his body is glorious; He did not return to an
earthly life, but a new condition. At first they did not recognize him, and
only through his words and deeds were their eyes opened: the encounter with the
Risen Lord transforms, it gives new strength to faith, an unshakable
foundation. The Risen Christ also reveals Himself to us with many signs: Sacred
Scripture, the Eucharist, the other Sacraments, charity, these gestures of love
bring a ray of the Risen One.
Let us be enlightened by the Resurrection of Christ, let us be
transformed by His power, so that through us the signs of death give way to
signs of life in the world! I see that there are many young people in the
Square! Young boys and girls, to you I say bring forth this certainty to the
world: the Lord is Alive and walks beside us on our life’s journey! Bring forth
this hope, be anchored in this hope, the hope that comes from heaven! Be
anchored and bring forth the hope! You witnesses of Christ bring forth hope to
this world that is aged by wars and sin! Go forward young people!