This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:30 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
In his address in Italian, the Pope focused his meditation on the Paschal Triduum (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today I would like to pause to meditate on the Easter Triduum, which begins tomorrow, to deepen a bit what the most important days of the Liturgical Year represent for us believers. I would like to ask you a question: what is the most important feast of our faith: Christmas or Easter? Easter, because it is the feast of our salvation, the feast of God’s love for us, the feast, the celebration of His Death and Resurrection. Therefore, I would like to reflect with you on this feast, on these days, which are paschal days, until the Resurrection of the Lord. These days constitute the celebratory memory of one great mystery: the Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The Triduum begins tomorrow, with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and it will end with Vespers of the Sunday of Resurrection. Then Easter Monday comes to celebrate this great feast: one more day. However, this is post-liturgical: it’s the family feast, it’s the feast of society. It marks the fundamental stages of our faith and of our vocation in the world, and all Christians are called to live the three Holy Days – Thursday, Friday, Saturday; and Sunday — of course –, Saturday is the Resurrection — the three Holy Days as, so to speak, the “matrix” of their personal and communal life, of their community life, as the exodus from Egypt was lived by our Jewish brothers.
These three days propose again to the Christian people the great events of the salvation wrought by Christ, and so they project it on the horizon of their future destiny and reinforce it in their commitment of witness in history.
Reviewing the stages lived in the Triduum, on Easter morning the Song of the Sequence, namely a hymn or a sort of Psalm, makes us hear solemnly the announcement of the Resurrection, and it says thus: “Christ, our hope, is risen and precedes us in Galilee.” This is the great affirmation: Christ is risen. And in many nations of the world, especially in Eastern Europe, people greet one another in these paschal days not with “good morning,” “good evening” but with “Christ is risen,” to affirm the great paschal greeting. “Christ is risen.” The Triduum culminates with these words — “Christ is risen” — of moving exultance. They contain not only an announcement of joy and hope, but also an appeal to responsibility and to the mission. And it doesn’t end with the dove, the eggs, the feasts – even if this is good because it’s the family feast – but it doesn’t end so. The way to the mission begins there, at the announcement: Christ is risen. And this announcement, to which the Triduum leads, preparing us to receive it, is the heart of our faith and of our hope, it’s the core, it’s the announcement, it’s — the word is difficult, but says it all –, it’s the kerygma, which continually evangelizes the Church and that she in turn is sent to evangelize.
Saint Paul summarizes the paschal event in this expression: “Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7), as lamb. He was immolated. Therefore — he continues — “the old things have passed and everything has become new” (2 Corinthians 5:15). Reborn. And therefore, from the beginning, people were baptized on the day of Easter. Also this Saturday night I will baptize here, in Saint Peter’s, eight adults who are beginning the Christian life. And everything begins because they will be reborn. And, with another synthetic formula Saint Paul explains that Christ “was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). <He is> the only one, the only one that justifies us; Jesus Christ is the only one who makes us be reborn, no one else. And, therefore, nothing must be paid, because justification — making us just — is free. And this is the grandeur of the love of Jesus: he gives His life freely to make us saints, to renew us, to forgive us. And this is precisely the core of this Paschal Triduum. In the Paschal Triduum the memory of this fundamental event becomes a full celebration of gratitude and, at the same time, it renews in the baptized the sense of their new condition, which again the Apostle Paul expresses thus: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, […] and not . . . those that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-3). Look up, look at the horizon, widen the horizons: this is our faith, this is our justification, this is the state of grace! Through Baptism, in fact, we are raised with Jesus and we die to the things and the logic of the world; we are reborn as new creatures: a reality that calls for becoming concrete existence day by day.
If a Christian truly lets himself be washed by Christ, if he truly lets himself be stripped by Him of the old man to walk in a new life, although remaining a sinner, — because we are all so — he can no longer be corrupt, Jesus’ justification saves us from corruption; we are sinners but not corrupt; he can no longer live with death in his soul, or even be the cause of death. And here I must say a sad and painful thing … There are fake Christians: those that say “Jesus is risen,” “I’ve been justified by Jesus,” I am in the new life, but I live a corrupt life. And these fake Christians will end badly. A Christians, I repeat, is a sinner — we are all so — I am so — but we have the certainty that when we ask the Lord for forgiveness, He forgives us. The corrupt <Christian> feigns being an honourable person but, in the end, putridness is in his heart. Jesus gives us a new life. A Christian can’t live with death in his soul, or be the cause of death. Let us think — not to go far — we think of home, we think of so-called “mafiosi Christians.” But these have nothing of the Christian: they call themselves Christians, but they bring death in their soul and to others. Let us pray for them, that the Lord may touch their soul. One’s neighbour, especially the littlest and the one suffering most, becomes the concrete face to whom to give the love that Jesus has given us. And the world becomes the place of our new life as risen ones. We have risen with Jesus: standing, and with our head held high, we can share the humiliation of those that still today, as Jesus, are in suffering, in nakedness, in necessity, in loneliness, in death, to become, thanks to Him and with Him, instruments of rescue and of hope, signs of life and of resurrection. In many countries — here in Italy and also in my homeland — there is the custom that, on Easter day, when the bells are heard, mothers, grandmothers bring the children to wash their eyes with water, with the water of life, as a sign to be able to see the things of Jesus, the new things. In this Easter, let us wash our soul, wash the eyes of the soul, to see beautiful things and do beautiful things. And this is wonderful! This is in fact the Resurrection of Jesus after His death, which was the price to save us all.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us dispose ourselves to live well this now imminent Holy Triduum — it begins tomorrow –, to be ever more profoundly inserted in the mystery of Christ, dead and risen for us. May the Most Holy Virgin, who followed Jesus in His Passion — She was there, looked, suffered . . . was present and united to Him under His cross, but was not ashamed of her Son, a Mother who was never ashamed of her son! She was there, and received in her Mother’s heart the immense joy of the Resurrection –, accompany us in this spiritual itinerary. May she obtain for us the grace to be interiorly involved in the celebrations of the next days, so that our heart and our life are really transformed.
And on leaving you these thoughts, I express to you all my warmest wishes for a happy and holy Easter, together with your communities and your dear ones.
And I counsel you, on Easter morning take the children to a tap and make them wash their eyes. It will be a sign of how to see the Risen Jesus.
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful.
I’m happy to receive the participants in the UNIV International Meeting, 50 years from the start of such a significant event. I exhort all to live the years of university formation as integral preparation for the service of man, witnessing in it the joy and values of the faith.
I greet the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; the parishes, the boy Mayors of the province of Catania; the Scouts of Bronte and of Trani and the student groups, particularly those of Civitavecchia, Teramo and Marzana.
A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. The Easter Triduum begins tomorrow, fulcrum of the Liturgical Year. Reflect on the price of blood paid by the Lord for salvation. May Good Friday teach you patience in moments of the cross and may Sunday of the Resurrection fill you with the joyful victory wrought by Christ over all that is against life and the good in the world.
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]