Pope Benedict XVI- General Audiences

General Audience
On the Joy of Easter
"Christ's Resurrection Gives Us the Certainty of Our Own Resurrection"
H.H. Benedict XVI
March 26,  2008

Dear brothers and sisters,

"'Et resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas' -- on the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures." Every Sunday, we renew our profession of faith in the resurrection of Christ with the Creed. This amazing event is the keystone of Christianity. In the Church, everything is understood to derive from this wonderful mystery that altered the course of history and that is made present at every celebration of the Eucharist.

There is a liturgical time, however, when this reality, central to the Christian faith, in all its rich doctrine and inexhaustible vitality is presented to the faithful in a particularly strong fashion because more people rediscover it and live it more faithfully: Easter time. Each year during the "holy triduum of Christ's crucifixion, death and resurrection," as St. Augustine calls it, the Church goes back over the final stages of Christ's life on earth in a climate of prayer and penitence: his being condemned to death, his journey to Calvary carrying the cross, the sacrifice he made for our salvation, and laying his body to rest. On the third day, the Church relives his resurrection; it is Easter, Jesus' journey from death to life, in which the ancient prophesies are completely fulfilled. All of the liturgies of Easter proclaim the certainty and the joy of Christ's resurrection.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must constantly strive to renew our adherence to Christ who died and rose again for us. His Easter is also our Easter because Christ's resurrection gives us the certainty of our own resurrection. The news of Christ's resurrection never ages and Jesus is always alive; he lives in the Gospel. "The faith of Christians," observes St. Augustine, "is the resurrection of Christ." The Acts of the Apostles explains this clearly: "God has provided confirmation for all by raising Jesus from the dead" (17:31).

The death of Jesus was not enough to prove he was truly the Son of God, the awaited Messiah. How many people, in the course of history, have given their lives for a cause they believed in! They did not come back. The death of our Lord demonstrates the enormous love he felt for us, even to the point of sacrificing himself. It is only through his Resurrection however that we are given "confirmation," the certainty that what he says is truth, a truth that applies to us too, forever. By resurrecting him, God glorified him. St. Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord and you believe with your heart that God resurrected him, you will be saved" (10:9).

It is important to reaffirm this truth which is fundamental to our faith. The historical truth of this has been well documented even if today as in the past there are people who in various ways doubt or even deny it occurred. The weakening of faith in the resurrection of Jesus in turn weakens the testimony of believers. In fact, if the Church's faith in the Resurrection were reduced, everything would stop and break up. On the other hand, adherence of the heart and mind to the belief in Christ's death and resurrection changes your life and lights up the lives of individuals and people everywhere.

Is it not this certainty in the risen Lord that inspires courage, bold prophecies and perseverance in the martyrs through the ages? Is it not this meeting with the living Christ which captivates and converts so many men and women who from the beginning of Christianity leave all they have to follow him and give their lives to serve the Gospel? If Christ has not risen, said the Apostle Paul, then our preaching is in vain and our faith is also in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). But he has risen!

The announcement which we constantly hear during these days is this: Christ is risen, he lives and we can meet him -- just as the women met him, the women who on the morning of the third day, the day after Saturday, went to the tomb; just as the disciples, surprised and upset by what the women had told them, met him; just as many other witnesses met him in the days following the resurrection. Even after the ascension, Jesus continued to be present among his friends just as he had promised: "I am with you every day until the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). The Lord is with you, with his Church, until the end of time. Illuminated by the Holy Spirit, the first members of the Church began making the Easter proclamation openly and without fear. This announcement handed down through the generations has now reached us too and is repeated each year at Easter with renewed vigor.

Particularly in these days of the Octave of Easter, the liturgy invites us personally to meet with the Risen Lord and to recognize his enlivening effect on historical events and on our daily lives. Today, Wednesday, for example, we are reminded of the moving story of the two disciples of Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:13-35). After the Crucifixion, overwhelmed with sadness and delusion, they disconsolately made their way home. While walking they talked to each other about what had happened over the past few days in Jerusalem. Jesus approached them, he began talking to them and teaching them, "Oh foolish men and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken ... was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? " (Luke 24:25-26).

Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. The teachings of Christ -- the explanation of the prophesies -- were for the disciples of Emmaus like an unexpected revelation, illuminating and comforting. Jesus provided a new key to reading the Bible and everything now seemed clear, all leading up to this moment. Won over by the words of this stranger, they asked him to stop and eat dinner with them. He accepted and sat down at the table with them. The Evangelist Luke tells us: "When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them" (Luke 24:29-30). It was at that precise moment that the eyes of the two disciples were opened and they recognized him, "but he vanished from their sight" (Luke 24:31). Overcome with surprise and with joy, they said: "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32).

The Lord walks with us and he explains the Scriptures throughout the whole of the liturgical year, but particularly in Holy Week and in Easter Week. He enables us to understand this mystery: Everything refers to him. This should make our hearts burn too so that our eyes may be opened. The Lord is with us and shows us the true path. Just as the two disciples recognized Jesus when he broke the bread, we too acknowledge his presence when we break the bread. The disciples of Emmaus recognized him and remembered those moments when Jesus broke the bread with them and in so doing anticipated his death and his resurrection, giving himself to his disciples.

Jesus breaks the bread for us and with us too, he is present with us in the holy Eucharist, he gives himself to us and opens our hearts. In the holy Eucharist and by reading his word, we too can meet and get to know Jesus by taking the consecrated bread and wine. Every Sunday, the community of the Church relives the Easter of the Lord and reaps from the savior his testament of love and brotherly service. Dear brothers and sisters, the joy of these days strengthens our faithful adherence to Christ who was crucified and resurrected. Above all, let us allow ourselves to feel the wonder of the Resurrection. May Mary help us to be messengers of the light and the joy of Easter. Again, I send you all my warmest wishes for a Happy Easter.

[Translation by Giustina Montaque]

[After his address, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the international group of School Sisters of Saint Francis gathered in Rome. I also thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Wales, Ireland, Indonesia, Japan, Canada and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Christ.

(c) Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


siervas_logo_color.jpg (14049 bytes)
Return to main page
This page is the work of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary