Skip to comments.On the Resurrection
Posted on 04/15/2009 11:39:24 PM PDT by ELS
On the Resurrection
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The usual General Audience on Wednesday is pervaded today with spiritual joy, that joy which no suffering or pain can annul. Because joy arises from the certainty that Christ, through his death and resurrection, has definitively triumphed over evil and death. "Christ is risen, Alleluia!" - the Church sings in celebration. And this festive atmosphere, the sentiments typical of Easter, continue not only this week - the Octave of Easter - but extends through the 50 days till Pentecost. Better yet, we might say that the mystery of Easter embraces the entire arc of our existence.
At this liturgical period, there are so many Biblical references and stimuli to meditation that are offered to us which deepen the significance and the value of Easter. The Via Crucis, which during the Sacred Triduum we travelled with Jesus towards Calvary, reliving thereby his sorrowful Passion, became the comforting Via Lucis - way of light - at the Easter Vigil. Seen from the Resurrection, we can say that all these paths of suffering are a way of light and spiritual rebirth, of interior peace and firm hope. After the tears and the loss of Good Friday, followed by the expectation-laden silence of Holy Saturday, on the dawn of 'the first day after the Sabbath', the proclamation of Life defeating death resounded vigorously: "Dux vitae mortuus/regnat vivus" - The Lord of life was dead; but now he lives and triumphs. The mind-blowing novelty of the Resurrection is so important that the Church does not cease to proclaim it, prolonging its remembrance especially every Sunday. Every Sunday is, in fact, the day of the Lord, the weekly Easter for the people of God. Our Oriental brothers, as if to testify how much this mystery of salvation invests our daily life, refer to Sunday as the 'day of the resurrection' (voskreshenye).
It is therefore fundamental for our faith and for our Christian testimony to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as a real event, a historical happening attested to by many authoritative witnesses. We affirm it forcefully because, even in our time, there is no lack of those who seek to deny its historicity, wo would reduce the evangelical account to a myth, to a 'vision' of the Apostles, rehashing and presenting old and exhausted theories as new and scientific. Certainly the resurrection was not a simple return by Jesus to his preceding life on earth. In this regard, in fact, it would be a thing that had happened before. Two thousand years ago, someone had resurrected and returned to his previous life - Lazarus. But Christ's resurrection is in a different dimension: it is the passage to a profoundly new dimension of life which is of interest to us, which involves the human family, history and the universe. This event which introduced a new dimension of life, an opening of our world to eternal life, changed the existence of its eyewitnesses, as the Gospel accounts and other New Testament writings show. It is an announcement that entire generations of men and women through the centuries have welcomed with faith and to which they have borne witness, not rarely, at the cost of their blood, knowing that they were entering thereby into this new dimension of life. Even this year, the Good News resounds at Easter unchanged and ever new, in every corner of the earth. Jesus who died on the Cross is resurrected; he lives gloriously because he has defeated the power of death. He has brought the human being to a new communion of life with God and in God. This is the victory of Easter, our salvation! Thus, we can sing with St. Augustine: "The resurrection of Jesusis our hope", because it introduces us to a new future.
It is true: the resurrection of Jesus establishes our firm hope and illumines our entire earthly pilgrimage, including the human enigma of suffering and death. Faith in Christ crucified and risen is the heart of the entire Gospel message, the central nucleus of our Credo. We can find an authoritative expression of this essential creed in a famous Pauline passage, from the First Letter to the Corinthians (15,3-8), where the Apostle, to answer some in the community of Corinth who paradoxically proclaimed the resurrection of Christ but denied that of the dead - our hope - faithfully transmits what he, Paul, had received from the first apostolic community about the death and resurrection of the Lord.
He begins with a statement that is almost peremptory: "Now I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain" (vv 1-2). He adds immediately that he transmitted to them what he himself had received. Then follows the pericope which we heard at the start of our meeting today. St. Paul presents, first of all, the death of Jesus, and adds, in a rather sparse text, two points to the statement "Jesus died". The first addition is: he died 'for our sins', and the second, 'according to the Scriptures' (v 3). This expression, 'according to the Scriptures', places the event of the Lord's death in relation to the Old Testament story of God's covenant with his people, and makes us understand that the death of the Son of God belongs to the fabric of the story of salvation, and that this story receives from Scripture its logic and its true meaning. Until the moment of Christ's death, it had remained almost an enigma, whose outcome was still uncertain. In the Paschal mystery is fulfilled the words of Scripture: that is, this death that happened 'according to the Scriptures' is an event that carries in itself a logos, a logic; the death of Christ testifies that the Word of God had become 'flesh' to the very depth, it had become part of human 'history'. How and why this took place one understands from the other addition that St. Paul makes: Christ died 'for our sins'. With these words, the Pauline text takes up the prophecy of Isaiah contained in the Fourth Song of the Servant of God (cfr Is 53,12). The Servant of God, says the song, 'stripped himself to death', he carried 'the sins of many', and interceding for the 'sinful, was able to bring the gift of reconciliation to men among themselves and of men with God: his death therefore put an end to death itself; the way of the Cross leads to the Resurrection.
In the verses that follow, the Apostle dwells on the resurrection of the Lord. He says that Christ "rose on the third day according to the Scriptures". Again, "according to the Scriptures"! Not a few exegetes have seen in this expression, "He rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures", a significant recall of what we read in Psalm 16, where the Psalmist proclaims:"For you will not abandon me to Sheol [the underworld] , nor let your faithful servant see the pit" (v 10). This is one of the Old Testament texts, often cited in early Christianity, to prove the messianic character of Jesus. Since according to Judaic interpretation, corruption [of the body] begins after the third day, the word of Scripture is fulfilled in Jesus who rises on the third day, before corruption can set in. St. Paul, faithfully transmitting the teaching of the Apostles, underscores that the victory of Christ over death takes place through the creative power of God. This divine power brings hope and joy: this is the definitive liberating content of the Paschal revelation. In the Resurrection, God reveals himself and the power of the Trinitarian love which annihilates the destructive forces of evil and death.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us allow ourselves to be illuminated by the splendor of the risen Lord. Let us us receive his Gospel and adhere to it generously as did the privileged witnesses to his resurrection, as several years later, St. Paul did when he met the divine Master in an extraordinary manner on the road to Damascus. We cannot keep to ourselves the announcement of this truth which changes the life of everyone. With humble trust, we pray: "Jesus, who in rising from the dead, anticipated our resurrection, we believe in you!" I would like to conclude with an exclamation that Silvanus of Mt. Athos liked to repeat: "Rejoice, my soul. It is always Easter, because the risen Christ is our resurrection!" May the Virgin Mary help us cultivate in ourselves and around us, this climate of Paschal joy, so we may be witnesses of divine love in every situation of our existence. Once more, a happy Easter to all of you.
[In English, he said]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Todays General Audience takes place at the beginning of the liturgical season of Easter, the joyful celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The Easter Sequence sings the victory of the Lord of life who, after a heroic struggle with death, now lives triumphant. After the Via Crucis of Good Friday, our solemn Easter Vigil sets us on a Via Lucis marked by consolation, peace and hope. It is fundamental for our faith and our Christian witness that we proclaim the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as a real, historical event. His resurrection was not a simple return to existence, but an entrance into a new dimension of life meant to transform every human being, all history and the whole cosmos. Saint Paul, writing to the Corinthians, reminded them of what was transmitted from the beginning, namely that Christ died and rose from the dead in accordance with the Scriptures. As the Suffering Servant of God, Jesus purified us from our guilt by carrying our sins and interceding for us. By dying he put an end to death, and by rising he brought new life to the world. May the joy of the resurrection of Christ give us courage to live his Gospel faithfully and bear witness to it generously!
I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at todays audience. I extend particular greetings to the groups from England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Malta, Australia, Indonesia, Canada and the United States of America. May your pilgrimage to the Eternal City strengthen your faith and renew your love for the Lord, the Giver of Life. I wish all of you a happy Easter!
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
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What a magnificent sermon! In just a few words, +BXVI describes The Faith; he teaches the people the Truth about what Christians in The Church believe.
Please give this as broad a distribution as possible. There are so many Latin Rite Freepers who have been sucked in by the heresies spouted by a small minority of American hierarchs lately that reading about what The Faith really is, coming from the pope, might help bring them back into theological line and restore to the Latin Rite the luster that it has lost everytime some politician in mitre cheapens it by distorting its message.
In his teachings, we can feel the burden of the many Saints who have come before this Holy Father in the Catholic Church. He never fails to bring to currency the Saints before him. I do so enjoy reading his messages. Thank you for the ping.
Have a blessed Great Thursday, K!
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