(Vatican Radio) Pilgrims thronged St. Peter’s Square, the long boulevard of Via della Conciliazione, spilling all the way down to the banks of the Tiber this Wednesday for Pope Francis' weekly general audience, the first of the Easter season.
The crowd was such, that the Holy Father’s open topped jeep took even longer than usual to tour through the square, filled with flags and banners from the parishes of the world. Many of them bore images of two of his predecessors, Blessed John Paul II and Blesses John XXIII, who this weekend – Divine Mercy Sunday - Pope Francis will raise to the altars of the saints.
A light rain fell as Pope Francis reached the raised dais set up before the basilica, from where he delivered his catechesis in Italian on the angels’ admonition of Mary Magdalene and the disciples the morning of Christ’s Resurrection: “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”
Below a Vatican Radio transcript and translation of the Holy Father's catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters Good day!
this week is the week of joy, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. It is a true, profound joy, based on the certainty that Christ is now risen, He is dead no more, but is alive and active in the Church and in the world . This certainty dwells in the hearts of believers from that Easter morning, when the women went to the tomb of Jesus and the angels said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead" (Lk 24,5) …”Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”. These words are a milestone in history; but also a "stumbling block" if we do not open ourselves to the Good News , if we believe that a dead Jesus is less of a nuisance than a living Jesus! Instead, in our daily journey, we often need to hear : Why do you seek the living one among the dead? . How often do we look for life among dead things, things that cannot give life, that are here today and gone tomorrow, Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
We need [these words] when we close ourselves within many forms of selfishness or self- complacency; when we allow ourselves to be seduced by the earthly powers and the things of this world, forgetting God and neighbor; when we place our trust in worldly vanities, in money, in success. Then the Word of God tells us: "Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”'. Why are you looking there, it can’t give you life it will give you joy for a day a week a month a year and then? Why do you seek the living one among the dead ? This sentence needs to enter into our heart….. Why do you seek the living one among the dead? Out loud! Why do you seek the living one among the dead ? And today when you go home say it in your heart, in silence ask why do I look in life among dead things for life? It will do us good!
But it is not easy, it is not obvious to accept the life of the Risen Christ and His presence among us. The Gospel shows us the reactions of the Apostle Thomas, Mary Magdalene and the two disciples of Emmaus: it does us good to confront them. Thomas puts a condition on his faith, he asks to touch the evidence, the wounds ; Mary Magdalene weeps, she sees him but does not recognize him, she only realizes that it is Jesus when He calls her by name; the disciples of Emmaus, depressed and feeling defeated, encounter Jesus by allowing themselves to be accompanied by the mysterious traveler. Each by different paths ! They were looking among the dead for One who is alive, and it was the same Lord to correct their course. And what do I do ? Which route to do I follow to meet the risen and living Christ? He will always be close to us to correct our course if we have gone wrong.
"Why do you seek the living one among the dead?" (Lk 24,5 ) . This question helps us resist the temptation to look back, to what was yesterday, and pushes us forward into the future. Jesus is not in the tomb, he is the Risen Lord, the Living, the One who always renews his body which is the Church and helps her walk, pulling her towards him. "Yesterday " is the tomb of Jesus and the Church, the tomb of truth and justice. "Today " is the perennial resurrection to which the Holy Spirit impels us, gifting us full freedom.
Today this question is also addressed to us. You, why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? you who close in on yourself after a failure or you who no longer have the strength to pray? Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive, you who feel alone, abandoned by friends, and perhaps even by God? Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive you who have lost hope or you who feel imprisoned by your sins? Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive you who aspire to beauty, spiritual perfection , justice, peace?
We need to hear ourselves repeat and remind each other of the angel’s admonition! This admonition, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead" helps us emerge from our spaces of sadness and opens up for us horizons of joy and hope. That hope that removes stones from graves and encourages us to proclaim the Good News , capable of generating new life for others.
Let us repeat the Angels question to have it in our heart and mind and let each of us answer in silence Why do you seek the living one among the dead? Look dear brother s and sisters let’s not look among those many tombs that promise everything and give nothing let’s look for Him, Jesus isn't in the tomb. He is risen! He is alive and gifts life!
Below the English language summary of the Holy Father’s catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters: The joy of Easter is born of our faith in Christ’s resurrection and his continuing presence in the Church and in our world. With the resurrection, all has been made new and fresh hope has been poured out upon our world. The question which the angel asked the women on the morning of the resurrection is directed to us as well: “Why do you seek the living among the dead”? (Lk 24:5). The Gospel shows us three examples of a life-changing encounter with the Risen Lord and invites us to a similar encounter. Like Thomas, we need to grasp the reality of Christ’s rising to new life. Like Mary Magdalene, we need to hear Jesus’ voice calling our name. And like the travellers on the road to Emmaus, we need to find renewed joy and hope by recognizing that the Lord is ever at our side. These disciples sought the living among the dead, yet Jesus led them, by different paths, to faith in him and the power of his resurrection. Today he challenges each of us to seek him, the Living One, and to leave behind everything that holds us back from encountering him and sharing in the rebirth, the freedom and the hope which he alone can give.
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s Audience, including those from Scotland, Sweden, Finland and the United States. I offer a special greeting to the newly-ordained deacons from the Pontifical Irish College, as well as their families and friends. Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord. God bless you all!