Castelgandolfo (AsiaNews) – A crowd of international pilgrims greeted Benedict XVI today who since yesterday has been staying at the Pontifical palace in Castelgandolfo for a brief period of rest after his many engagements during Holy Week. Many young Italians, French, American and Germans cheered, greeting him with shouts and slogans when he appeared on the balcony of the inner courtyard. “Easter joy is truly present,” the Pope said, adding jokingly “and we can actually feel it.”
Here is the full text of the Pontiff’s reflection before the Regina Caeli prayer, which during the Easter period replaces the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters!
In these days of Easter we shall hear the words of Jesus resonate: “I arose and now I am still with you.” Echoing this announcement, the Church proclaims exultant: “Yes, we are certain! For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia! To him be glory and power forever (and ever).” As it celebrates the whole Church expresses its emotions in songs: “This is the day of Christ the Lord”. Indeed, by rising from death, Jesus inaugurated a new eternal day. “I shall not die,’ he said, “but live.”
The Son of the crucified man, a stone discarded by builders, has become the solid foundation of the new spiritual building, which is the Church, its mystic Body. The people of God, which has in Christ its invisible leader, is destined to grow through the centuries until the plan of salvation is totally fulfilled. Then the whole of humanity will be incorporated in him, and every existing reality will be imbued with his total victory. As Saint Paul wrote, he will be “the one who fills all things in every way” (cf Eph 1:23), and “God may be all in all” (1Cor 15:28).
Never the less, the Christian community is rejoicing because the resurrection of the Lord ensures that the divine plan of salvation will be surely fulfilled. This is why his Easter is truly our hope. And we, risen with Christ through the Baptism, now must faithfully follow him in a life of holiness, walking without halting in the direction of the eternal Easter, sustained by the awareness that the difficulties, struggles, trails, and sufferings of human existence, including death, can no longer separate us from Him and his love. His resurrection laid a bridge between the world and life eternal, which every man and woman can cross to reach the goal of our earthly pilgrimage.
“I arose and now I am still with you”. This pledge by Jesus finds realisation especially in the Eucharist. It is in each Eucharistic celebration that the Church, and every one of its members, experience his living presence and benefit from the depth of his love. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Risen Lord cleanses our faults, spiritually nurtures us and instils the vigour that enables us to sustain the hard trial of existence and fight sin and evil. He is the safe foundation that supports our pilgrimage towards the eternal home in heaven. May the Virgin Mary, who lived by her divine Son’s side during each moment of his mission on earth, help us faithfully welcome the gift of Easter, and make us faithful and joyful witnesses of the Resurrected Lord.