Addressing thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis called on faithful to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection with “boldness and courage.” The crowds gathered for the Sunday recitation of the Regina Caeli, which takes the place of the Angelus during the Easter season.
Reflecting on the Sunday reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Father commented on the response by Peter and the Apostles when they were ordered to stop teaching in Christ’s name, despite facing flagellation and imprisonment.
“I ask myself: Where did the first disciples find the power for this witness of theirs? And, moreover: Where did their joy and courage to preach despite the obstacles and violence come from?” the Holy Father said.
“Let us not forget that the Apostles were simple people; they were not scribes, doctors of the law, nor did they belong to the priestly class.”
The Holy Father went on to say that it was clear that only through the action of the Holy Spirit and the presence of the risen Christ could explain the courageousness of the Apostles.
“Their faith was based upon an experience of the dead and risen Christ that was so powerful and personal that they were not afraid of anyone or anything, and indeed they saw persecutions as a badge of honor that allowed them to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to be like him, bearing witness with their life,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis said that this witness of the first Christian community is relevant to the Church in today’s modern age: that one who knows and believes in Christ “cannot do anything but communicate this experience. If that person meets adversity or misunderstanding, they will ultimately imitate Christ in his Passion, that is, responding with love and truth.
Prior to reciting the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father asked for the intercession of the Virgin Mary in giving all faithful the courage and the boldness to proclaim Christ resurrection with “signs of fraternal love.”
“Fraternal love,” the Pope said, “is the nearest testimony that we can give that Jesus is alive among us, the risen Jesus. Let us pray in a special way for persecuted Christians; in this time there are many Christians who suffer persecution, many, many, in many countries: let us pray for them, with love, from our heart. May they feel the living and comforting presence of the risen Lord.”