.- At his first General Audience of this Easter Season, Pope Benedict XVI said before more than 30,000 people that Christians must forcefully proclaim Jesus' Resurrection as âa real historical event, borne out by many authoritative witnesses.â
"The astonishing novelty of the Resurrection is so important that the Church never ceases to proclaim it, perpetuating its memory, especially on Sundays, the Lord's Day and the weekly Easter of the people of God," explained the Pope, who traveled to the Vatican by helicopter from his residence in Castel Gandolfo.
Instead of a far away, mythical story, we must proclaim Jesus' Resurrection as âa real historical event, borne out by many authoritative witnesses,â Pope Benedict insisted. âWe affirm it forcefully because, even in our own times, there is no lack of people who seek to deny its historical truth, reducing the Gospel narrative to a myth, thus repeating old worn-out theories as if they were new and scientific."
"Of course, for Jesus the Resurrection was not a simple return to His earlier life on earth," the Pope continued. "Rather it was a passage to a profoundly new dimension of life, one that is deeply new, that involves in a new dimension the whole of the human family."
This new dimension, he added, illuminates âour entire earthly pilgrimage, including the human enigma of pain and death.â âWith St. Augustine we can proclaim: 'The Resurrection of Christ is our hope' and our future," the Pope pointed out.
"It is true," the Pope stated, "Christ's Resurrection is the foundation of our firm hope and illuminates our entire earthly pilgrimage, including the human enigma of pain and death.â
Moreover, âFaith in Christ crucified and risen is the heart of the entire evangelical message, the central nucleus of our 'Creed.'â âThe death of Christ shows that the word of God really and fully became 'flesh', human 'history.'"
"At Easter," the Holy Father concluded, "God reveals Himself and the power of the Trinitarian love that annihilates the destructive forces of evil and death.â
âLet us be enlightened by the splendor of the Risen Lord. Like Saint Paul who met the Divine Master in an extraordinary fashion on his way to Damascus, we cannot keep to ourselves this truth which changes everyoneâs life. We must bear witness to divine love.â
During the general audience people sang âHappy Birthdayâ to Benedict XVI in several languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Croatian and Italian) to mark his 82nd birthday, celebrating also the anniversary of his pontificate, which falls on April 19.