Benedict XVI's Easter Message
"A Renewed Witness to the Resurrection of Christ"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 8, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of
Benedict XVI's Easter message delivered today at midday before he imparted
his blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world).
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters throughout the world,
Men and women of good will!
Christ is risen! Peace to you! Today we celebrate the great mystery, the
foundation of Christian faith and hope: Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified
One, has risen from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures.
We listen today with renewed emotion to the announcement proclaimed by the
angels on the dawn of the first day after the Sabbath, to Mary of Magdala
and to the women at the sepulcher: "Why do you search among the dead for
one who is alive? He is not here, he is risen!" (Luke 24:5-6).
It is not difficult to imagine the feelings of these women at that moment:
feelings of sadness and dismay at the death of their Lord, feelings of disbelief
and amazement before a fact too astonishing to be true. But the tomb was
open and empty: the body was no longer there. Peter and John, having been
informed of this by the women, ran to the sepulcher and found that they were
right. The faith of the Apostles in Jesus, the expected Messiah, had been
submitted to a severe trial by the scandal of the cross. At his arrest, his
condemnation and death, they were dispersed. Now they are together again,
perplexed and bewildered. But the Risen One himself comes in response to
their thirst for greater certainty. This encounter was not a dream or an
illusion or a subjective imagination; it was a real experience, even if unexpected,
and all the more striking for that reason. "Jesus came and stood among them
and said to them, 'peace be with you!'" (John 20:19).
At these words their faith, which was almost spent within them, was re-kindled.
The Apostles told Thomas who had been absent from that first extraordinary
encounter: Yes, the Lord has fulfilled all that he foretold; he is truly
risen and we have seen and touched him! Thomas however remained doubtful
and perplexed. When Jesus came for a second time, eight days later in the
Upper Room, he said to him: "put your finger here and see my hands; and put
out your hand and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing!"
The Apostle's response is a moving profession of faith: "My Lord and my God!"
"My Lord and my God!" We too renew that profession of faith of Thomas. I
have chosen these words for my Easter greetings this year, because humanity
today expects from Christians a renewed witness to the resurrection of Christ;
it needs to encounter him and to know him as true God and true man. If we
can recognize in this Apostle the doubts and uncertainties of so many Christians
today, the fears and disappointments of many of our contemporaries, with
him we can also rediscover with renewed conviction, faith in Christ dead
and risen for us. This faith, handed down through the centuries by the successors
of the Apostles, continues on because the Risen Lord dies no more. He lives
in the Church and guides it firmly towards the fulfillment of his eternal
design of salvation.
We may all be tempted by the disbelief of Thomas. Suffering, evil, injustice,
death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims
of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger, does not all of this put our
faith to the test? Paradoxically the disbelief of Thomas is most valuable
to us in these cases because it helps to purify all false concepts of God
and leads us to discover his true face: the face of a God who, in Christ,
has taken upon himself the wounds of injured humanity. Thomas has received
from the Lord, and has in turn transmitted to the Church, the gift of a faith
put to the test by the passion and death of Jesus and confirmed by meeting
him risen. His faith was almost dead but was born again thanks to his touching
the wounds of Christ, those wounds that the Risen One did not hide but showed,
and continues to point out to us in the trials and sufferings of every human
"By his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24). This is the message
Peter addressed to the early converts. Those wounds that, in the beginning
were an obstacle for Thomas's faith, being a sign of Jesus' apparent failure,
those same wounds have become in his encounter with the Risen One, signs
of a victorious love. These wounds that Christ has received for love of us
help us to understand who God is and to repeat: "My Lord and my God!" Only
a God who loves us to the extent of taking upon himself our wounds and our
pain, especially innocent suffering, is worthy of faith.
How many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world! Natural calamities
and human tragedies that cause innumerable victims and enormous material
destruction are not lacking. My thoughts go to recent events in Madagascar,
in the Solomon Islands, in Latin America and in other regions of the world.
I am thinking of the scourge of hunger, of incurable diseases, of terrorism
and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence which some people
attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the
violation of human rights and the exploitation of persons. I look with apprehension
at the conditions prevailing in several regions of Africa. In Darfur and
in the neighboring countries there is a catastrophic, and sadly to say underestimated,
humanitarian situation. In Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
the violence and looting of the past weeks raises fears for the future of
the Congolese democratic process and the reconstruction of the country. In
Somalia the renewed fighting has driven away the prospect of peace and worsened
a regional crisis, especially with regard to the displacement of populations
and the traffic of arms. Zimbabwe is in the grip of a grievous crisis and
for this reason the bishops of that country in a recent document indicated
prayer and a shared commitment for the common good as the only way forward.
Likewise the population of East Timor stands in need of reconciliation and
peace as it prepares to hold important elections. Elsewhere too, peace is
sorely needed: in Sri Lanka only a negotiated solution can put an end to
the conflict that causes so much bloodshed; Afghanistan is marked by growing
unrest and instability; In the Middle East, besides
some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian authority,
nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the
civil population flees. In Lebanon the paralysis of the country's political
institutions threatens the role that the country is called to play in the
Middle East and puts its future seriously in jeopardy. Finally, I cannot
forget the difficulties faced daily by the Christian communities and the
exodus of Christians from that blessed land which is the cradle of our faith.
I affectionately renew to these populations the expression of my spiritual
Dear brothers and sisters, through the wounds of the Risen Christ we can
see the evils which afflict humanity with the eyes of hope. In fact, by his
rising the Lord has not taken away suffering and evil from the world but
has vanquished them at their roots by the superabundance of his grace. He
has countered the arrogance of evil with the supremacy of his love. He has
left us the love that does not fear death, as the way to peace and joy. "Even
as I have loved you -- he said to his disciples before his death -- so you
must also love one another" (cf. John 13:34).
Brothers and sisters in faith, who are listening to me from every part of
the world! Christ is risen and he is alive among us. It is he who is the
hope of a better future. As we say with Thomas: "My Lord and my God!", may
we hear again in our hearts the beautiful yet demanding words of the Lord:
"If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my
servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him" (John 12:26).
United to him and ready to offer our lives for our brothers (cf. 1 John 3:16),
let us become apostles of peace, messengers of a joy that does not fear pain
- the joy of the Resurrection. May Mary, Mother of the Risen Christ, obtain
for us this Easter gift. Happy Easter to you all.
[The Holy Father greeted pilgrims in 62 languages. In English, he said:]
May the grace and joy of the Risen Christ be with you all.
© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana