Bookmark and Share

Easter - Pasqua - Pâques - Pascua 2010

Papa Benedetto's Homily at the Easter Vigil
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
An ancient Jewish legend from the apocryphal book “The life of Adam and Eve” recounts that, in his final illness, Adam sent his son Seth together with Eve into the region of Paradise to fetch the oil of mercy, so that he could be anointed with it and healed. The two of them went in search of the tree of life, and after much praying and weeping on their part, the Archangel Michael appeared to them, and told them they would not obtain the oil of the tree of mercy and that Adam would have to die. Later, Christian readers added a word of consolation to the Archangel’s message, to the effect that after 5,500 years the loving King, Christ, would come, the Son of God who would anoint all those who believe in Him with the oil of his mercy. “The oil of mercy from eternity to eternity will be given to those who are reborn of water and the Holy Spirit. Then the Son of God, Christ, abounding in love, will descend into the depths of the earth and will lead your father into Paradise, to the tree of mercy.” This legend lays bare the whole of humanity’s anguish at the destiny of illness, pain and death that has been imposed upon us. Man’s resistance to death becomes evident: somewhere – people have constantly thought – there must be some cure for death. Sooner or later it should be possible to find the remedy not only for this or that illness, but for our ultimate destiny – for death itself. Surely the medicine of immortality must exist. Today too, the search for a source of healing continues. Modern medical science strives, if not exactly to exclude death, at least to eliminate as many as possible of its causes, to postpone it further and further, to prolong life more and more. But let us reflect for a moment: what would it really be like if we were to succeed, perhaps not in excluding death totally, but in postponing it indefinitely, in reaching an age of several hundred years? Would that be a good thing? Humanity would become extraordinarily old, there would be no more room for youth. Capacity for innovation would die, and endless life would be no paradise, if anything a condemnation. The true cure for death must be different. It cannot lead simply to an indefinite prolongation of this current life. It would have to transform our lives from within. It would need to create a new life within us, truly fit for eternity: it would need to transform us in such a way as not to come to an end with death, but only then to begin in fullness. What is new and exciting in the Christian message, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was and is that we are told: yes indeed, this cure for death, this true medicine of immortality, does exist. It has been found. It is within our reach. In Baptism, this medicine is given to us. A new life begins in us, a life that matures in faith and is not extinguished by the death of the old life, but is only then fully revealed.

To this some, perhaps many, will respond: I certainly hear the message, but I lack faith. And even those who want to believe will ask: but is it really so? How are we to picture it to ourselves? How does this transformation of the old life come about, so as to give birth to the new life that knows no death? Once again, an ancient Jewish text can help us form an idea of the mysterious process that begins in us at Baptism. There it is recounted how the patriarch Enoch was taken up to the throne of God. But he was filled with fear in the presence of the glorious angelic powers, and in his human weakness he could not contemplate the face of God. “Then God said to Michael,” to quote from the book of Enoch, “‘Take Enoch and remove his earthly clothing. Anoint him with sweet oil and vest him in the robes of glory!’ And Michael took off my garments, anointed me with sweet oil, and this oil was more than a radiant light … its splendour was like the rays of the sun. When I looked at myself, I saw that I was like one of the glorious beings” (Ph. Rech, Inbild des Kosmos, II 524).

Precisely this – being reclothed in the new garment of God – is what happens in Baptism, so the Christian faith tells us. To be sure, this changing of garments is something that continues for the whole of life. What happens in Baptism is the beginning of a process that embraces the whole of our life – it makes us fit for eternity, in such a way that, robed in the garment of light of Jesus Christ, we can appear before the face of God and live with Him for ever.

In the rite of Baptism there are two elements in which this event is expressed and made visible in a way that demands commitment for the rest of our lives. There is first of all the rite of renunciation and the promises. In the early Church, the one to be baptized turned towards the west, the symbol of darkness, sunset, death and hence the dominion of sin. The one to be baptized turned in that direction and pronounced a threefold “no”: to the devil, to his pomp and to sin. The strange word “pomp”, that is to say the devil’s glamour, referred to the splendour of the ancient cult of the gods and of the ancient theatre, in which it was considered entertaining to watch people being torn limb from limb by wild beasts. What was being renounced by this “no” was a type of culture that ensnared man in the adoration of power, in the world of greed, in lies, in cruelty. It was an act of liberation from the imposition of a form of life that was presented as pleasure and yet hastened the destruction of all that was best in man. This renunciation – albeit in less dramatic form – remains an essential part of Baptism today. We remove the “old garments”, which we cannot wear in God’s presence. Or better put: we begin to remove them. This renunciation is actually a promise in which we hold out our hand to Christ, so that He may guide us and reclothe us. What these “garments” are that we take off, what the promise is that we make, becomes clear when we see in the 5th chapter of the Letter to the Galatians what Paul calls “works of the flesh” – a term that refers precisely to the old garments that we remove. Paul designates them thus: “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing and the like” (Gal 5:19). These are the garments that we remove: the garments of death.

Then, in the practice of the early Church, the one to be baptized turned towards the east – the symbol of light, the symbol of the newly rising sun of history, the symbol of Christ. The candidate for Baptism determines the new direction of his life: faith in the Trinitarian God to whom he entrusts himself. Thus it is God who clothes us in the garment of light, the garment of life. Paul calls these new “garments” “fruits of the spirit”, and he describes them as follows: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22).

In the early Church, the candidate for Baptism was then truly stripped of his garments. He descended into the baptismal font and was immersed three times – a symbol of death that expresses all the radicality of this removal and change of garments. His former death-bound life the candidate consigns to death with Christ, and he lets himself be drawn up by and with Christ into the new life that transforms him for eternity. Then, emerging from the waters of Baptism the neophytes were clothed in the white garment, the garment of God’s light, and they received the lighted candle as a sign of the new life in the light that God Himself had lit within them. They knew that they had received the medicine of immortality, which was fully realized at the moment of receiving holy Communion. In this sacrament we receive the Body of the risen Lord and we ourselves are drawn into this Body, firmly held by the One who has conquered death and who carries us through death.

In the course of the centuries, the symbols were simplified, but the essential content of Baptism has remained the same. It is no mere cleansing, still less is it a somewhat complicated initiation into a new association. It is death and resurrection, rebirth to new life.

Indeed, the cure for death does exist. Christ is the tree of life, once more within our reach. If we remain close to him, then we have life. Hence, during this night of resurrection, with all our hearts we shall sing the alleluia, the song of joy that has no need of words. Hence, Paul can say to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). Joy cannot be commanded. It can only be given. The risen Lord gives us joy: true life. We are already held for ever in the love of the One to whom all power in heaven and on earth has been given (cf Mt 28:18). In this way, confident of being heard, we make our own the Church’s Prayer over the Gifts from the liturgy of this night: Accept the prayers and offerings of your people. With your help may this Easter mystery of our redemption bring to perfection the saving work you have begun in us. Amen."

BXVI - Saint Peter's Basilica, Holy Saturday, 3 April 2010

Papa Benedict's Urbi et Orbi Message on Easter Sunday
3rd April 2010, St Peter's Square - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Cantemus Domino: gloriose enim magnificatus est. “Let us sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!” (Liturgy of the Hours, Easter, Office of Readings, Antiphon 1).

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, I bring you the Easter proclamation in these words of the Liturgy, which echo the ancient hymn of praise sung by the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea. It is recounted in the Book of Exodus (cf 15:19-21) that when they had crossed the sea on dry land, and saw the Egyptians submerged by the waters, Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, and the other women sang and danced to this song of joy: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed wonderfully: horse and rider he has thrown into the sea!” Christians throughout the world repeat this canticle at the Easter Vigil, and a special prayer explains its meaning; a prayer that now, in the full light of the resurrection, we joyfully make our own: “Father, even today we see the wonders of the miracles you worked long ago. You once saved a single nation from slavery, and now you offer that salvation to all through Baptism. May the peoples of the world become true sons of Abraham and prove worthy of the heritage of Israel.”

The Gospel has revealed to us the fulfilment of the ancient figures: in his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has freed us from the radical slavery of sin and opened for us the way towards the promised land, the Kingdom of God, the universal Kingdom of justice, love and peace. This “exodus” takes place first of all within man himself, and it consists in a new birth in the Holy Spirit, the effect of the baptism that Christ has given us in his Paschal Mystery. The old man yields his place to the new man; the old life is left behind, and a new life can begin (cf Rom 6:4). But this spiritual “exodus” is the beginning of an integral liberation, capable of renewing us in every dimension – human, personal and social.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, Easter is the true salvation of humanity! If Christ – the Lamb of God – had not poured out his blood for us, we would be without hope, our destiny and the destiny of the whole world would inevitably be death. But Easter has reversed that trend: Christ’s resurrection is a new creation, like a graft that can regenerate the whole plant. It is an event that has profoundly changed the course of history, tipping the scales once and for all on the side of good, of life, of pardon. We are free, we are saved! Hence from deep within our hearts we cry out: “Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!”

The Christian people, having emerged from the waters of Baptism, is sent out to the whole world to bear witness to this salvation, to bring to all people the fruit of Easter, which consists in a new life, freed from sin and restored to its original beauty, to its goodness and truth. Continually, in the course of 2000 years, Christians – especially saints – have made history fruitful with their lived experience of Easter. The Church is the people of the Exodus, because she constantly lives the Paschal Mystery and disseminates its renewing power in every time and place. In our days too, humanity needs an “exodus”, not just superficial adjustment, but a spiritual and moral conversion. It needs the salvation of the Gospel, so as to emerge from a profound crisis, one which requires deep change, beginning with consciences.

I pray to the Lord Jesus that in the Middle East, and especially in the land sanctified by his death and resurrection, the peoples will accomplish a true and definitive “exodus” from war and violence to peace and concord. To the Christian communities who are experiencing trials and sufferings, especially in Iraq, the Risen Lord repeats those consoling and encouraging words that he addressed to the Apostles in the Upper Room: “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:21).

For the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that are seeing a dangerous resurgence of crimes linked to drug trafficking, let Easter signal the victory of peaceful coexistence and respect for the common good. May the beloved people of Haiti, devastated by the appalling tragedy of the earthquake, accomplish their own “exodus” from mourning and from despair to a new hope, supported by international solidarity. May the beloved citizens of Chile, who have had to endure another grave catastrophe, set about the task of reconstruction with tenacity, supported by their faith.

In the strength of the risen Jesus, may the conflicts in Africa come to an end, conflicts which continue to cause destruction and suffering, and may peace and reconciliation be attained, as guarantees of development. In particular I entrust to the Lord the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Nigeria.

May the Risen Lord sustain the Christians who suffer persecution and even death for their faith, as for example in Pakistan. To the countries afflicted by terrorism and by social and religious discrimination, may He grant the strength to undertake the work of building dialogue and serene coexistence. To the leaders of nations, may Easter bring light and strength, so that economic and financial activity may finally be driven by the criteria of truth, justice and fraternal aid. May the saving power of Christ’s resurrection fill all of humanity, so that it may overcome the multiple tragic expressions of a “culture of death” which are becoming increasingly widespread, so as to build a future of love and truth in which every human life is respected and welcomed.

Dear brothers and sisters, Easter does not work magic. Just as the Israelites found the desert awaiting them on the far side of the Red Sea, so the Church, after the resurrection, always finds history filled with joy and hope, grief and anguish. And yet, this history is changed, it is marked by a new and eternal covenant, it is truly open to the future. For this reason, saved by hope, let us continue our pilgrimage, bearing in our hearts the song that is ancient and yet ever new: “Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!”

Papa Benedetto's words at the Regina Caeli on Easter Monday
5th April 2010, Castel Gandolfo - in CroatianEnglish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the light of Easter that we are celebrating throughout this week I renew my most cordial greetings of peace and joy. As you know, the Monday after the Sunday of the Resurrection is traditionally known as "Lunedì del Angelo". It is very interesting to reflect on this reference to the "Angel". Of course, we think straight away of the Gospel narratives of Jesus' Resurrection, in which a messenger of the Lord appears. St Matthew writes: "And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an Angel of the Lord descended from Heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow" (Mt 28: 2-3). All the Evangelists, then, explain that when the women went to the tomb and found it open and empty, it was an Angel who told them that Jesus had risen. In Matthew, this messenger of the Lord says to them: "Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said". (Mt 28: 5-6); he then shows them the empty tomb and charges them to take the message to the disciples. In Mark, the Angel is described as "a young man... dressed in a white robe", who gives the women the same message (cf 16: 5-6). Luke speaks of "two men ... in dazzling apparel", who remind the women how Jesus had told them long before of his death and Resurrection (cf Lk 24: 4-7). John also speaks of "two Angels in white"; it is Mary Magdalene who sees them as she weeps by the tomb and they ask her: "Woman, why are you weeping?" (Jn 20: 11-13).

But the Angel of the Resurrection also calls to mind another meaning. We must remember in fact that the term 'angel', as well as describing Angels, spiritual creatures endowed with intelligence and will, servants and messengers of God, is also one of the most ancient titles attributed to Jesus himself. We read, for example, in Tertullian: "He", that is, Christ, "was also the "Angel of counsel', that is, a herald, a term that denotes an office rather than a nature. Effectively he was to proclaim to the world the Father's great plan for the restoration of man" (cf De Carne Christi, 14). This is what the ancient Christian writer said. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was therefore also called the "Angel of God the Father": he is the Messenger par excellence of God's love. Dear friends, let us now consider what the Risen Jesus said to the Apostles: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20: 21); and he communicated his Holy Spirit to them. This means that just as Jesus was the herald of God the Father's love, we too must be heralds of Christ's charity: we are messengers of his Resurrection, of his victory over evil and death, heralds of his divine love. Of course, by our nature we remain men and women, but we have received the mission of "Angels", messengers of Christ: it is given to all in Baptism and in Confirmation. Through the sacrament of Orders, priests, ministers of Christ, receive it in a special way. I wish to emphasize this in this Year for Priests.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us now turn to the Virgin Mary, invoking her as Regina Caeli, Queen of Heaven. May she help us to accept to the full the grace of the Paschal Mystery and to become courageous and joyful messengers of Christ's Resurrection."

Dopo il Regina Caeli

"Le Christ est vraiment ressuscité, alléluia! Chers frères et sœurs francophones, que la Solennité de Pâques soit vraiment, pour chacun de vous, un jour de fête et de joie! À la suite des femmes quittant le tombeau tremblantes et toutes joyeuses, après avoir fait l’expérience de la Résurrection du Seigneur, je vous invite à annoncer, vous aussi, cette Bonne Nouvelle. Forts de notre foi au Christ ressuscité, sachons rayonner de la joie pascale et de la beauté de l’espérance chrétienne. N’ayons pas peur de témoigner que Jésus est vivant et présent au milieu de nous! À tous, je souhaite de bonnes et saintes fêtes de Pâques!

I am very pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present here today for the Regina Cæli prayer. In these first days of Easter, we celebrate intensely the mystery of the Resurrection of the Lord. Like the women in today’s Gospel passage, may all of us, especially those baptized this Easter, keep alive in our hearts our awe and great joy in the presence of the Risen Lord. God bless you all!

Einen frohen Ostergruß richte ich an alle Pilger und Besucher deutscher Sprache hier in Castelgandolfo. Der Herr ist wahrhaft auferstanden! Er hat uns den Weg eröffnet, den wir aus eigener Kraft nicht gehen konnten. Der auferstandene Christus ist uns zur Brücke geworden, auf der wir zu Gott gelangen und in Gemeinschaft mit ihm ein erfülltes Leben führen können. Euch und euren Familien wünsche ich von Herzen eine gesegnete Osterwoche.

Dirijo mi cordial saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española que participan en esta oración mariana. Que el triunfo de Cristo sobre el pecado y la muerte llene vuestra vida de alegría y paz, y os ayude siempre a ser consecuentes con vuestra condición de cristianos. No tengáis miedo. Cristo ha resucitado y vive entre nosotros. Su presencia amorosa acompaña el camino de la Iglesia y la sostiene en medio de las dificultades. Con esta certeza en vuestro corazón, ofreced al mundo un testimonio sereno y valiente de la vida nueva que brota del Evangelio. Feliz Pascua de Resurrección a todos.

“Chrystus zmartwychwstał, jak zapowiedział, radujmy się wszyscy, ponieważ króluje na wieki”. Te słowa wielkanocnej antyfony kieruję do Polaków jako zaproszenie, by w każdej sytuacji, jaką przynosi życie, powracać do radości w Panu. On zmartwychwstał, zwyciężył grzech i śmierć. Dzięki wierze i ufności nasze serca napełnia światło Wielkiej Nocy, które rozprasza mroki każdego smutku. Tej radości wam życzę i wypraszam Boże błogosławieństwo.

Saluto, infine, i pellegrini di lingua italiana, con un ricordo particolare per le Autorità e gli abitanti di Castel Gandolfo. Un affettuoso pensiero dirigo ai pellegrini che da Piazza S. Pietro partecipano a questo incontro di preghiera. A tutti e ciascuno auguro di trascorrere serenamente questo Lunedì dell’Angelo. Forse verrà un po’ di sole, dopo! Ma, in ogni caso, risuona con forza l’annuncio gioioso della Pasqua: Cristo è risorto! Alleluia! Buona Pasqua!"

BXVI - © Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Papa Benedict's Homily in Malta on 3rd Sunday of Easter
at Floriana Granaries on the Third Sunday of Easter - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish + video

"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,
Maħbubin uliedi
I am very glad to be here with all of you today before the beautiful church of Saint Publius to celebrate the great mystery of God’s love made manifest in the Holy Eucharist. At this time, the joy of the Easter season fills our hearts because we are celebrating Christ’s victory, the victory of life over sin and death. It is a joy which transforms our lives and fills us with hope in the fulfilment of God’s promises. Christ is risen, alleluia!

I greet the President of the Republic and Mrs Abela, the civil authorities of this beloved Nation, and all the people of Malta and Gozo. I thank Archbishop Cremona for his gracious words, and I also greet Bishop Grech and Bishop Depasquale, Archbishop Mercieca, Bishop Cauchi and the other bishops and priests present, as well as all the Christian faithful of the Church in Malta and Gozo. Since my arrival yesterday evening I have experienced the same kind of warm welcome which your ancestors gave the Apostle Paul in the year 60.

Many travellers have disembarked here in the course of your history. The richness and variety of Maltese culture is a sign that your people have profited greatly from the exchange of gifts and hospitality with seafaring visitors. And it is a sign that you have known how to exercise discernment in drawing upon the best of what they had to offer.

I urge you to continue to do so. Not everything that today’s world proposes is worthy of acceptance by the people of Malta. Many voices try to persuade us to put aside our faith in God and his Church, and to choose for ourselves the values and beliefs by which to live. They tell us we have no need of God or the Church. If we are tempted to believe them, we should recall the incident in today’s Gospel, when the disciples, all of them experienced fishermen, toiled all night but failed to catch a single fish. Then, when Jesus appeared on the shore, he directed them to a catch so great that they could scarcely haul it in. Left to themselves, their efforts were fruitless; when Jesus stood alongside them, they netted a huge quantity of fish. My dear brothers and sisters, if we place our trust in the Lord and follow his teachings, we will always reap immense rewards.

Our first reading at Mass today is one that I know you love to hear, the account of Paul’s shipwreck on the coast of Malta, and his warm reception by the people of these islands. Notice how the crew of the ship, in order to survive, were forced to throw overboard the cargo, the ship’s tackle, even the wheat which was their only sustenance. Paul urged them to place their trust in God alone, while the ship was tossed to and fro upon the waves. We too must place our trust in him alone. It is tempting to think that today’s advanced technology can answer all our needs and save us from all the perils and dangers that beset us. But it is not so. At every moment of our lives we depend entirely on God, in whom we live and move and have our being. Only he can protect us from harm, only he can guide us through the storms of life, only he can bring us to a safe haven, as he did for Paul and his companions adrift off the coast of Malta. They did as Paul urged them to do, and so it was “that they all escaped safely to the land” (Acts 27:44).

More than any of the cargo we might carry with us – in terms of our human accomplishments, our possessions, our technology – it is our relationship with the Lord that provides the key to our happiness and our human fulfilment. And he calls us to a relationship of love. Notice the question that he put three times to Peter on the shore of the lake: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” On the basis of Peter’s affirmative response, Jesus assigns him a task – the task of feeding his flock. Here we see the basis of all pastoral ministry in the Church. It is our love for the Lord that must inform every aspect of our preaching and teaching, our celebration of the sacraments, and our care for the people of God. It is our love for the Lord that moves us to love those whom he loves, and to accept gladly the task of communicating his love to those we serve. During our Lord’s Passion, Peter denied him three times. Now, after the Resurrection, Jesus invites him three times to avow his love, in this way offering him healing and forgiveness and at the same time entrusting him with his mission. The miraculous catch of fish underlined the apostles’ dependence on God for the success of their earthly projects. The dialogue between Peter and Jesus underlined the need for divine mercy in order to heal their spiritual wounds, the wounds of sin. In every area of our lives we need the help of God’s grace. With him, we can do all things: without him we can do nothing.

We know from St Mark’s Gospel the signs that accompany those who put their faith in Jesus: they will pick up serpents and be unharmed, they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover (cf Mk 16:18). These signs were immediately recognized by your forebears when Paul came among them. A viper attached itself to his hand, but he simply shook it off into the fire, and suffered no harm. He was taken to see the father of Publius, the protos of the island, and after praying and laying hands on him, Paul healed him of his fever. Of all the gifts brought to these shores in the course of your people’s history, the gift brought by Paul was the greatest of all, and it is much to your credit that it was immediately accepted and treasured. Għożżu l-fidi u l-valuri li takom l-Appostlu Missierkom San Pawl. Continue to explore the richness and depth of Paul’s gift to you and be sure to hand it on not only to your children, but to all those you encounter today. No visitor to Malta could fail to be impressed by the devotion of your people, the vibrant faith manifested in your feast-day celebrations, the beauty of your churches and shrines. But that gift needs to be shared with others, it needs to be articulated. As Moses taught the people of Israel, the words of the Lord “shall be upon your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise” (Deut 6:6-7). This was well understood by Malta’s first canonized Saint, Dun Ġorġ Preca. His tireless work of catechesis, inspiring young and old with a love for Christian doctrine and a deep devotion to the Incarnate Word of God, set an example that I urge you to maintain. Remember that the exchange of goods between these islands and the world outside is a two-way process. What you receive, evaluate with care, and what you have that is of value, be sure to share with others.

I would like to address a particular word to the priests present here, in this year devoted to a celebration of the great gift of the priesthood. Dun Ġorġ was a priest of remarkable humility, goodness, meekness and generosity, deeply devoted to prayer and with a passion for communicating the truths of the Gospel. Let him serve as a model and an inspiration for you, as you strive to fulfil the mission you have received to feed the Lord’s flock. Remember, too, the question that the Risen Lord put three times to Peter: “Do you love me?” That is the question he asks each of you. Do you love him? Do you wish to serve him through the gift of your whole lives? Do you long to bring others to know and love him? With Peter, have the courage to answer, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you,” and accept with grateful hearts the beautiful task that he has assigned you. The mission entrusted to priests is truly a service to joy, to God’s joy which longs to break into the world (cf Homily, 24 April 2005).

As I look around me now at the great crowds gathered here in Floriana for our celebration of the Eucharist, I am reminded of the scene described in our second reading today, in which myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands united their voices in one great song of praise: “To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever and ever” (Rev 5:13). Continue to sing that song, in praise of the risen Lord and in thanksgiving for his manifold gifts. In the words of Saint Paul, Apostle of Malta, I conclude my words to you this morning: “L-imħabba tiegħi tkun magħkom ilkoll fi Kristu Ġesù” (1 Cor 16:24)!"

Papa Benedict's Homily in Turin on 5th Sunday of Easter
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish + video

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am happy to be with you on this festive day and to celebrate this solemn Eucharist for you. I greet everyone present and in particular the Pastor of your Archdiocese, Cardinal Severino Poletto, whom I thank for his warm words to me on behalf of all. I also greet the Archbishops and Bishops present, the priests, the men and women religious and the representatives of the Ecclesial Associations and Movements. I address a respectful thought to Hon. Mr Sergio Chiamparino, the Mayor, with gratitude for his kind greeting, to the representatives of the Government and to the civil and military Authorities, with special thanks to those who have generously offered their cooperation for this pastoral visit. I extend my thoughts to those who are unable to be present, especially the sick, the lonely and all those in difficulty. I entrust the City of Turin and all its inhabitants to the Lord in this Eucharistic celebration, which, as it does every Sunday, invites us to partake as a community in the twofold banquet of the Word of truth and the Bread of eternal life.

We are in the Easter Season which is the time of Jesus' glorification. The Gospel we have just heard reminds us that this glorification is brought about in the Passion. In the Paschal Mystery, passion and glorification are closely bound together and form an indissoluble unity. When Judas leaves the Upper Room to carry out his scheme of betrayal that will lead to the Master's death, Jesus says: "now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified" (Jn 13: 31): the glorification of Jesus begins at that very moment. The Evangelist John makes it quite clear: he does not in fact say that Jesus was glorified only after his Passion, through his Resurrection; rather he shows that precisely with the Passion his glorification began. In it Jesus manifests his glory, which is the glory of love, which gives itself totally. He loved the Father, doing his will to the very end, with a perfect gift of self; He loved humanity, giving his life for us. Thus He was already glorified in his Passion and God was glorified in Him. But the Passion as a very real and profound expression of his love is only a beginning. This is why Jesus says that his glorification is also to come (cf Jn, 13: 32). Then, when He announces his departure from this world (cf Jn, 13: 33), the Lord gives his disciples a new commandment, as it were a testament, so that they might continue his presence among them in a new way: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (Jn 13: 34). If we love each other, Jesus will continue to be present in our midst, to be glorified in this world.

Jesus speaks of a "new commandment". But what is new about it? In the Old Testament, God had already given the commandment of love; but this commandment has become new now because Jesus makes a very important addition to it: "As I have loved you, that you also love one another." What is new is precisely this "loving as Jesus loved". All our loving is preceded by his love and refers to this love, it fits into this love and is achieved precisely through this love. The Old Testament did not present any model of love; it only formulated the precept of love. Instead, Jesus gave Himself to us as a model and as a source of love. It is a boundless, universal love, capable of transforming all negative circumstances and obstacles into opportunities to grow in love. And in this City's Saints we see the fulfilment of this love, always from the source of Jesus' love.

In past centuries, the Church in Turin had a rich tradition of holiness and generous service to the brethren as both the Cardinal Archbishop and Mr Mayor pointed out thanks to the work of zealous priests and men and women religious of both active and contemplative life and faithful laypeople. Jesus' words thus acquire a special resonance for this Church of Turin, a generous and active Church, beginning with her priests. In giving us the new commandment, Jesus asks us to live his own love and on his own love, which is the truly credible, eloquent and effective sign for proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God to the world. Clearly, with our own strength alone we are weak and limited. In us there is always a resistance to love and in our existence there are very many difficulties that cause division, resentment and ill will. However, the Lord promised us that He would be present in our lives, making us capable of this generous, total love that can overcome all obstacles, even those in our own hearts. If we are united to Christ, we can truly love in this way. Loving others as Jesus loved us is only possible with that power which is communicated to us in the relationship with him, especially in the Eucharist, in which his Sacrifice of love that generates love becomes really present: this is the true newness in the world and the power of a permanent glorification of God who is glorified in the continuity of the love of Jesus in our love.

I would therefore like to say a word of encouragement especially to the Priests and Deacons of this Church, who dedicate themselves generously to pastoral work, as well as to the men and women Religious. Being a labourer in the Lord's vineyard can sometimes be tiring, duties increase, there are so many demands and problems are not lacking: may you be able to draw daily from this relationship of love with God in prayer the strength to transmit the prophetic announcement of salvation; refocus your existence on what is essential in the Gospel; cultivate a real dimension of communion and brotherhood in the presbyterate, in your communities, in your relations with the People of God; bear witness in your ministry to the power of love that comes from on high, that comes from the Lord present in our midst.

The First Reading we have heard presents to us precisely a special way of glorifying Jesus: the apostolate and its fruits. Paul and Barnabas, at the end of their first apostolic voyage, return to the cities they have already visited and give fresh courage to the disciples, exhorting them to remain firm in the faith for, as they say, "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14: 22). Christian life, dear brothers and sisters, is not easy; I know that difficulties, problems and anxieties abound in Turin: I am thinking in particular of those who currently live in precarious conditions, because of the scarcity of work, uncertainty about the future, physical and moral suffering. I am thinking of families, of young people, of elderly people who often live alone, of the marginalized and of immigrants. Yes, life leads to confrontation with many difficulties, many problems, but it is precisely the certainty that comes from faith, the certainty that we are not alone, that God loves each one without distinction and is close to everyone with his love, that makes it possible to face, live through and surmount the effort of dealing with daily problems. It was the universal love of the Risen Christ that motivated the Apostles to come out of themselves, to disseminate the word of God, to spend themselves without reserve for others, with courage, joy and serenity. The Risen One has a power of love that overcomes every limit, that does not stop in front of any obstacle. And the Christian community, especially in the most pastorally demanding situations, must be a concrete instrument of this love of God.

I urge families to live the Christian dimension of love in simple everyday actions in family relationships, overcoming divisions and misunderstandings; in cultivating the faith, which makes communion even stronger. Nor, in the rich and diverse world of the university and of culture, should there be a lack of the witness to love of which today's Gospel speaks in the capacity for attentive listening and humble dialogue in the search for Truth, in the certainty that Truth itself will come to us and catch hold of us. I would also like to encourage the frequently difficult endeavours of those called to administer public affairs: collaboration in order to achieve the common good and to make the City ever more human and liveable is a sign that Christian thought on man is never contrary to his freedom but favours a greater fullness that can only find its fulfilment in a "civilization of love". I wish to say to all, and especially to the young: never lose hope, the hope that comes from the Risen Christ, from God's victory over sin, hatred and death.

Today's Second Reading shows us precisely the final outcome of Jesus' Resurrection: it is the new Jerusalem, the Holy City that comes down from Heaven, from God, adorned as a bride for her husband (cf Rev 21: 2). The One who was crucified, who shared our suffering as the sacred Shroud also eloquently reminds us is the One who is Risen and who wants to reunite us all in his love. It is a marvellous, "strong" and solid hope, because, as Revelation says: "[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away" (21: 4). Does not the Holy Shroud communicate the same message? In it we see, as in a mirror, our suffering in the suffering of Christ: Passio Christi. Passio hominis. For this very reason the Shroud is a sign of hope: Christ faced the Cross to stem evil; to make us see, in his Pasch, the anticipation of that moment when, even for us, every tear will be wiped away, when there will no longer be death, mourning or lamentation.

The passage from Revelation ends with this assertion: "And he who sat upon the throne said: "Behold, I make all things new'" (21: 5). The first absolutely new thing made by God was Jesus' Resurrection, his heavenly glorification. This is the beginning of a whole series of "new things" in which we also have a share. "New things" are a world full of joy, in which there is no more suffering and oppression, there is no more rancour or hatred, but only the love that comes from God and transforms all things.

Dear Church in Turin, I have come to you to strengthen you in the faith. I would like to urge you, forcefully and with affection, to remain steadfast in that faith which you have received, that gives meaning to life and that gives the strength to love; never to lose the light of hope in the Risen Christ, who can transform reality and make all things new; to live out God's love in a simple, practical way in the City, in its districts, in communities, in families: "As I have loved you, that you also love one another". Amen."

BXVI - St Charles Square, Turin - Fifth Sunday of Easter, 2 May 2010 - © Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana