Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The
reflection and greetings Benedict XVI addressed to the pilgrims in St Peter's
Square in today's Regina Caeli were full references to Divine Mercy and the Blessed
John Paul II. Since 2000, by will of the Polish pope, the second Sunday after Easter
is the "feast of the Divine Mercy", following a revelation Jesus made to Saint Faustina
Kowalska, who was canonised in 2000. Equally significant, John Paul II died
during the first vespers of the feast of the Divine Mercy in 2005.
Speaking about today's Gospel (John, 20, 19-31) and Jesus' appearance
to the disciples, the pope said, "What the Gospel says is very important, namely
that Jesus, in his two appearances to Apostles in the cenacle, repeated several
times the greeting 'Peace be with you' (John,
20, 19:21.26). The traditional greeting with which shalom, peace, is wished
for becomes something new. It becomes the gift of peace that only Jesus can
give because it is the fruit of the radical victory over evil. The 'peace' Jesus
offers his friends is the fruit of God's love that led him to die on the cross,
and spill all of his blood, like a meek and humble lam 'full of grace and truth'
(John, 1:14). This is why the Blessed
John Paul II dedicated the Sunday after Easter to Divine Mercy with a specific
icon, that of pierced side of Christ, from which blood and water flowed,
according to the eyewitness account of the Apostle John (cf John, 19:34-37).
But Jesus rose, and from him,
living, comes the Easter Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. Whoever approaches them with faith shall
receive the gift of eternal life.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us
welcome the gift of peace that the Risen Jesus offers us; let our hearts be
filled with his mercy! This way, with the power of the Holy Spirit, the spirit
that resurrected Christ from the dead, we too can deliver these Easter gifts to
During the multilingual greetings
that followed the Marian prayer, the pontiff had special greetings for "the
pilgrims who took part in the Holy Mass celebrated by Cardinal Vicar Agostino
Vallini in the Church of the Santo Spirito in Sassia (Holy Spirit in Saxony), near
St Peter' Basilica, a privileged place of worship of the Divine Mercy, where Saint
Faustina Kowalska and the Blessed John Paul II are especially venerated. I hope
all of you can be witnesses of Christ's merciful love. Thank you for your
In Polish, the pope greeted pilgrims
from the Sanctuary of Our Lord's Mercy in Łagiewniki, built where Saint Faustina
Kowalska lived and died, calling on them to be "witnesses of Divine Mercy".
"There, ten years ago, the Blessed
John Paul II said, 'This fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world. In
the mercy of God, the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness! I
entrust this task to [. . .] all the votaries of Divine Mercy.' Faithful to
this exhortation, let us announce to the world the message of the Merciful
Jesus. 'May you be witnesses to mercy'!"
In his reflection, Benedict XVI spoke
about the time when Jesus appeared on "the first day of the week" and a "week
later" (John, 20, 19.26). "That day,
later called 'Sunday', is the day of the assembly, when the Christian community
gets together to worship, i.e. the Eucharist, a form of worship that is new and
distinct from the Jewish Sabbath. In fact, the celebration of the Day of the
Lord is strong evidence of Christ's Resurrection because only and extraordinary
and amazing event could induce the first Christians to start worshipping
differently from the Jewish Sabbath."
Then as now, the Christian form
of worship is not only the commemoration of past events. It is also not simply
a particular inner and mystical experience. It is an essential a meeting with
the Risen Lord, who lives in God's dimension, beyond time and space, and yet is
truly present in the community, speaking to us through the Holy Scriptures,
breaking the bread of eternal life for us. Through these signs, we experienced
what the disciples experienced, i.e. the chance of seeing Jesus and yet not
recognising him, touching his body, a real body, yet one that is free from
Four days from now, Benedict XVI
will mark the seventh anniversary of his pontificate. The pope spoke about it
in his greetings to French pilgrims. "For next Thursday, the seventh anniversary
of my election to the See of Peter, I call upon you to pray for me so that the
Lord may give me the strength to fulfil the mission he assigned to me. May the
Virgin Mary, Mother of believers, help us live in the joy of Easter."