Pope Benedict XVI- General Audiences
On the Risen Christ
"We Cannot Keep the Great News to Ourselves"
H.H. Benedict XVI
April 11, 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We meet each other today after the solemn Easter celebrations for our
usual Wednesday audience, and it is my desire above all to renew to each
of you the most fervent vows of well-wishing. I thank you for your
presence here in such great numbers and I thank the Lord for the
beautiful sun he has given us today.
In the Easter Vigil there resounded this announcement: "The Lord is
truly risen, alleluia!" Now it is he himself who speaks to us: "I shall
not die but live," he proclaims. To sinners he says: "Receive the
remission of sins. Indeed I am your remission." To all, in the end, he
repeats: "I am the Passover of salvation, the Lamb slain for you, I your
ransom, I your life, I your resurrection, I your light, I your
salvation, I your king. I will show you the Father." This is how a
writer of the second century, Melito of Sardis, expresses himself,
realistically interpreting the words of the Risen One ("On Easter,"
In these days, the liturgy recalls the different meetings with Jesus
after his resurrection: with Mary Magdalene and the other women who had
gone in the early morning to the tomb the day after the Sabbath; with
the incredulous apostles who were together in the cenacle; with Thomas
and other disciples. These different appearances of his constitute for
us, too, an invitation to delve into the fundamental message of Easter;
they stimulate us to retrace the spiritual journey of those who met
Christ and recognized him in those first days after the events of
The Evangelist John tells us of how Peter and he himself, having heard
the news from Mary Magdalene, ran, almost racing, to the tomb (cf. John
20:3ff). The Fathers of the Church saw in their hurried haste toward the
empty tomb an exhortation to the only legitimate competition among
believers: the race in seeking Christ.
And what should we say of Mary Magdalene? Weeping, she remains alongside
the empty tomb, only desiring to know where they have taken her master.
She finds him and recognizes him when he calls her by name (cf. John
20:11-18). We too, if we seek the Lord with a simple and sincere heart,
will meet him. Indeed, he himself will come to meet us; he will make us
recognize him, he will call us by name, he will bring us into the
intimacy of his love.
Today, Wednesday in the octave of Easter, the liturgy brings us to
meditate on another singular encounter with the Risen One, that of the
two disciples of Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:13-35). Saddened over the death of
their master, they return home and the Lord comes along to travel with
them, but they do not recognize him. His words, commenting on the
Scriptures that refer to him, cause a fire to burn in the disciples'
hearts so that they ask him to stay with them when they arrive at their
destination. When, at the end, he "takes the bread, says the blessing,
breaks it and gives it to them" (Luke 24:30), their eyes are opened. But
at that very instant Jesus disappears. They recognized him, therefore,
when he disappeared.
Commenting on this episode of the Gospel, St. Augustine observes: "Jesus
breaks the bread, they recognize him. Now we no longer say that we do
not recognize the Christ! If we believe, we know him! Indeed, if we
believe, we have him! They had Christ at their table, we have him in our
soul!" He concludes: "Having Christ in your heart is much more than
having him in your house: In fact our heart is closer to us than our
house" (Sermon 232, VII, 7). Let us try truly to carry Jesus in our
In the prologue to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke affirms that the
risen Lord "shows himself (to the apostles) living, after his passion,
with many proofs, appearing to them for forty days" (Acts 1:3). We must
understand this well: When the sacred author says "he showed himself
living" he does not want to say that Jesus was returned to his former
life, as Lazarus. St. Bernard observes that "Pascha" (Easter), which we
are celebrating, means "passage" and not "return," because Jesus has not
returned to the previous situation, but rather he has "crossed a
frontier" toward a more glorious, new, and definitive condition (cf.
Sermon on Easter).
To Mary Magdalene the Lord said: "Do not cling to me for I have not yet
ascended to the Father" (John 20:17). This is an expression that
surprises us, especially when we compare it to what happens with the
incredulous Thomas. There, in the cenacle, it was the Risen One himself
who presented his hands and his side so that Thomas touch them and find
the certainty that it was Jesus (cf. 20:27). In reality the two episodes
are not opposed to each other; on the contrary, the one helps us
understand the other.
Mary Magdalene wanted to have the same master as before, taking the
cross to be a dramatic memory to forget. Now, however, there is no room
for a merely human relationship with the Risen One. To encounter him one
need not go back but place oneself into a new relationship with him: One
must go forward! St. Bernard emphasizes this: Jesus "invites all of us
to this new life, to this passage.… We do not see Christ if we turn
backward" (Sermon on Easter). This is what happened to Thomas. Jesus
showed him his wounds not so as to forget the cross, but to make it
unforgettable even in the future.
It is toward the future that our gaze in now directed. The task of the
disciple is to bear witness to the death and Resurrection of his master
and his new life. For this reason Jesus invites his incredulous friend
to "touch him": He wants to give direct testimony of his resurrection.
Dear brothers and sisters, we too, like Mary Magdalene, Thomas and the
other apostles, are called to be witnesses of the death and resurrection
of Christ. We cannot keep the great news to ourselves. We must tell it
to all the world: "We have seen the Lord!" (John 20:25).
May the Virgin Mary help us to fully taste the Easter joy, so that,
sustained by the strength of the Holy Spirit, we become able in turn to
spread it wherever we live and work.
Once again, Happy Easter to all of you!
[Translation by ZENIT]
[After the audience, Benedict XVI greeted visitors in various languages.
In English, he said:]
I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience,
including the groups from Britain and Ireland, Sweden, Australia and the
United States. I extend a special welcome the newly ordained deacons and
the Golden Jubilarians from Ireland. I pray that the Risen Lord will
fill your hearts with joy and that he will inspire you to proclaim to
the world the good news of the Lord's Resurrection! Happy Easter to you
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