Over 30,000 people swelled St. Peter’s Square today to take part in the weekly general audience with Pope Benedict, who arrived by helicopter from his Castelgandolfo residence. The Holy Father’s dedicated his discourse to the period of Easter, and more specifically, to the fact that Jesus’ resurrection is “'certain proof' ... that what He says is true".
"The entire liturgy of the Easter period proclaims the certainty and joy of Christ's resurrection", the Pope began. This is "the central truth of Christian faith in all its doctrinal richness and its inexhaustible vitality".
Christ's Easter, he went on, "is also our Easter because in the risen Christ we are given the certainty of our final resurrection. ... The death of the Lord shows the immense love with which He loved us, even to the point of sacrificing Himself for us. But only His resurrection is 'certain proof' ... that what He says is true".
"It is important to reiterate this fundamental truth of our faith", explained the Holy Father, "the historical truth of which is amply documented, even if today as in the past there is no lack of people who put it in doubt or even deny it.
The Pope pointed to the effects of doubt versus belief in the Resurrection saying, “The weakening of faith in the resurrection of Jesus leads to the weakening of the testimony of believers. ... Whereas adhesion to Christ, dead and risen, changes lives and illuminates the entire life of individuals and peoples".
"The liturgy invites us - and especially in this octave of Easter - to encounter the Risen One personally and to recognize His life-giving action in the events of history and in our daily lives".
As with the disciples of Emmaus who figure in today's Gospel, "the Lord is walking with us and he explains the Scripture to us. He brings us to understand this mystery in which everything speaks of Him. This should make our hearts burn so that our eyes may also be opened. The Lord is with us, He shows us the true path".
The disciples of Emmaus recognized Christ "as He broke the bread. ... We too", the Holy Father concluded, "can meet and know Jesus Christ in the celebration of the Eucharist, ... on the double altar of the announced Word and the consecrated Bread and Wine. Each Sunday the community relives the Lord's Easter and draws from the Savior its witness of love and fraternal service".