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Dear brothers and sisters, good morning! In the last Catechesis we focused on the event of the resurrection of Jesus, in which women played a special role. Today I would like to reflect on the event’s salvific significance. What does the resurrection mean for our lives? And why is our faith in vain without it?
Our faith is based on the death and resurrection of Christ, just as a house rests on foundations: if these give way, the whole house collapses. On the cross, Jesus offered himself, taking upon himself our sins and descending into the abyss of death, and in the Resurrection he conquers, he takes [our sins] away and opens the path for us to be reborn to a new life. St. Peter expresses this succinctly at the beginning of his First Letter, as we heard: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1:3-4).
The Apostle tells us that with the resurrection of Jesus, something absolutely new happens: we are freed from the slavery of sin and become God’s children, we are generated, thus, to a new life. When is this realized for us? In the sacrament of Baptism. In ancient times, it was usually performed by immersion. The person to be baptized descended into the large basin in the baptistery, taking off his clothes, and the bishop or priest poured water three times over his head, baptizing him in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Then the baptized person came out of the baptismal font and put on the new, white garment: this signified that he was born to a new life, by immersing himself in the death and resurrection of Christ. He had become a son of God. St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans writes: you have received a spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba! Father!”(Rom 8:15). It is the Spirit that we have received in baptism that teaches us, it urges us, to say to God: “Father”, or better, “Abba!”, which means “dad”. This is our God: He is a dad for us. The Holy Spirit produces in us this new condition of being sons of God. And this is the greatest gift that we receive from the Paschal mystery of Jesus. And God treats us as children, He understands us, forgives us, embraces us and loves us even when we make mistakes. Already in the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah said that even if a mother could forget her child, God never forgets us, ever (cf. 49:15). And this is beautiful!
However, this filial relationship with God is not like a treasure that we store in a corner of our lives, but has to grow, it must be fed every day by listening to the Word of God, praying and participating in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and through charity. We can live as children! And this is our dignity – we have the dignity of children -. To behave as true children! This means that every day we must let Christ transform us and make us like him; it means trying to live as Christians, trying to follow him, even if we see our limitations and weaknesses. The temptation is always there to leave God aside in order put to ourselves at the center and the experience of sin wounds our Christian life, our being sons of God. For this we must have the courage of faith, and not allow ourselves to be guided by that mentality that says to us: “God is useless, he’s not important for you”. It is the exact opposite: it is only by acting like sons of God, without getting discouraged because of our falls, because of our sins, feeling loved by Him, that our lives will be new, animated by serenity and joy. God is our strength! God is our hope!
Dear brothers and sisters, we, before all others, need to have this hope firmly rooted and need to be a visible sign of it, bright and clear for everyone. The risen Lord is the hope that never diminishes, that never disappoints (cf. Rom 5:5). Hope never deludes. That hope that comes from the Lord! How often in our lives do our hopes vanish, how often do the expectations we nourish in our hearts not come about! Our hope as Christians is strong, secure, solid in this land, where God has called us to walk, and is open to eternity, because it is founded on God, who is always faithful. We must not forget: God is faithful; God is always faithful with us. Being risen with Christ through baptism, by the gift of faith, to an inheritance that does not corrupt, leads us to seek the things of God, to think of Him more often, to pray to Him more. Being a Christian isn’t just following the commandments, but means being in Christ, thinking like him, acting like him, loving like him; it means letting him take possession of our lives and change them, transform them, free them from the darkness of evil and sin.
Dear brothers and sisters, to those who ask us an account of the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Pt 3:15), let us point out the risen Christ. Let us point him out by announcing the Word, but especially by our risen life. Let us manifest the joy of being children of God, the freedom that living in Christ gives, he who is the true freedom, freedom from the slavery of evil, sin and death! Let us look to our heavenly homeland, we will have a new light and strength also in our work and in our daily toil. It is a valuable service that we must render to our world, which often can no longer lift its gaze upward, it no longer manages to lift its gaze towards God.[Translation by Peter Waymel]
In our continuing catechesis on the Creed during the Year of Faith we now consider the meaning of Christ’s resurrection for us and for our salvation. The Lord’s death and resurrection are the foundation of our faith; by his triumph over sin and death, Christ has opened for us the way to new life. Reborn in Baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and become God’s adoptive sons and daughters. God is now our Father: he treats us as his beloved children; he understands us, forgives us, embraces us, and loves us even when we go astray. Christianity is not simply a matter of following commandments; it is about living a new life, being in Christ, thinking and acting like Christ, and being transformed by the love of Christ! But this new life needs to be nourished daily by hearing God’s word, prayer, sharing in the sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist, and the exercise of charity. God must be the centre of our lives! By our daily witness to the freedom, joy and hope born of Christ’s victory over sin and death, we also offer a precious service to our world, helping our brothers and sisters to lift their gaze heavenward to the God of our salvation.
Holy Father (in Italian):
I am pleased to greet the visitors from the NATO Defense College and I offer prayerful good wishes for their service to international peace and cooperation. I also extend a warm welcome to the group of “Wounded Warriors” from the United States, with heartfelt prayers that their pilgrimage to Rome will bear rich spiritual fruit for them and their families. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Australia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Canada and the United States, I invoke the Risen Lord’s gifts of joy and peace.
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I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the faithful of the Diocese of Grosseto, Livorno and Teggiano Policastro, accompanied by the bishops, Mons. Borghetti, Mons. Giusti and Mons. De Luca, who have come for the pilgrimage to the See of Peter on the occasion of the Year of Faith. I salute the Group of employees of IDI [Istituto Dermatologico dell’Immacolata, an Italian scientific dermatological institute]. I hope that we can find a positive solution to a difficult situation. I greet the members of the Italian Society of Medical Radiology on the centenary of its founding, the devotees of our Lady of Sciàrra, Sanctuary of the Archdiocese of Catania and the faithful of the Marian Movement of Bagherìa. May your visit to the tombs of the Apostles strengthen you all in faith, hope and charity.
Finally, an affectionate thought to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Monday we celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation. May the Virgin Mary inspire your mind, dear young people, so that you may always listen to and put into practice the will of the Lord; may she warm your hearts, dear sick people, to offer your suffering for the good of the Church; and may she lead you, dear newlyweds, to recognize the presence of God and of His love in your new family life.
I heard the news of the strong earthquake that hit southern Iran and that caused deaths, many injuries and severe damage. I pray for the victims and express my closeness to the people affected by this calamity. Let us pray for all these brothers and sisters of Iran.
[Translation by Peter Waymel]