Vatican City (AsiaNews) – About 25,000 people were present in St Peter’s Square for today’s general audience. They sang “Happy Birthday” to Benedict XVI in several languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Croatian and Italian) to mark his 82nd birthday—the Pontiff was in fact born in Marktl am Inn (Germany) on 16 April 1927—and the anniversary of his pontificate (19 April). Choirs sang to the sound of musical bands as Benedict XVI looked on, smiling.
In his address to the gathering the Holy Father spoke about the “overwhelming novelty” of Easter, the “spiritual bliss that no suffering or pain can erase” because based on the “certainty that Christ with his resurrection was the triumph of good over death and evil.” Novelty and bliss generate “a festive atmosphere that lasts for 50 days, until Pentecost, as the mystery of Easter embraces our entire existence” and is “so important that the Church never ceases proclaiming it, each Sunday, the weekly Easter of the people of God.”
The Resurrection, Benedict XVI stressed, “is a real, historical event, attested by many important witnesses. We strongly reaffirm it because today there are those who would deny its historical nature, reducing the evangelical account to a myth, thus repeating old worn-out theories as if they were new and scientific.”
The truth of the Resurrection is not however “a simple return to a previous life, as was the case for Lazarus, but is the passage to a new dimension of life, one that is deeply new, that involves in a new dimension the whole of the human family, [. . .] illuminating our entire earthly pilgrimage, including the human enigma of pain and death.”
It is “the central nucleus of our creed.” It “involves universal history” and “has given a new dimension to this world, changing the existence of eyewitnesses.” It is “the announcement that generations of men and women through the centuries have welcomed and born witness to, frequently at the cost of their own life.”
Lastly the Resurrection “is an event that carries in itself a logos, a logic. It testifies that the Word of God has become flesh.”
In concluding the Pope said: “Let us be enlightened by the splendour 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 everyone’s life. We must bear witness to divine love.”