The resurrection of Lazarus showed Christ’s victory over physical death, but Jesus' crucifixion defeated the “spiritual death” of sin, said Pope Benedict XVI at the Sunday Angelus.
Death, the Pope said, is like "a wall" that impedes man from seeing what lies beyond. "Our heart pushes out beyond this wall, and even if we cannot know what it hides, we still think about it, we imagine it, expressing ... our desire for eternity."
Christ, in his resurrection, destroyed this "wall of death," the Pope told those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Sunday's Gospel reading from St. John recounted Jesus’ words to Martha in the moments before he raised her brother Lazarus from the dead.
Pope Benedict explained that Jesus proposed a complete "novelty" when he proclaimed himself "the resurrection and the life" and said "whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live."
This new conception of the resurrection "breaks down and goes beyond every barrier."
"Christ destroys the wall of death. In him dwells all the fullness of God, who is life, eternal life," the Pope said.
Christ had thus conquered physical death and Lazarus' resurrection was "a sign of his full dominion over (it)."
The "spiritual death" of sin, however, posed "the toughest fight" for Christ, who paid "the price of the cross" to defeat it.
"To conquer this death, Christ died, and his resurrection is not the return to the former life, but the opening to a new reality, a 'new earth,' finally joined together again with the heaven of God."
The Pope cited the words of St. Paul to the Romans, "If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you."
Each person, said the Pope, aspires to this "personal resurrection" made possible through Christ's death.
Although faith in the resurrection and eternal life may be accompanied by doubt and confusion, even from Christians, "it is always about a reality that goes beyond the limits of our reason, and requires an act of faith," he said.
Pope Benedict concluded his Angelus address with a call for everyone to turn to the Virgin Mary in prayer that she might assist them in discovering salvation in Christ.