Castel Gandolfo, 14 November 2002
Christ’s Resurrection. A unique event in history that most characterizes Christianity and identifies its founder. It is an opportunity to renew faith in the Life that does not pass.
The spiritual thought this month concerns one precise characteristic of the Christian life.
Since our Movement also includes the faithful of other world religions as well as people who do not have any particular religious affiliation, I would like to begin with a suggestion and a recommendation precisely for them.
As you all know, we are all part of the same Movement where what must triumph among us is the “Golden Rule” present in our Scriptures: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” or “Do not do to others as you would not have them do to you.” This requires loving one another, and therefore, getting to know one another better. For this reason, I encourage all of you to derive benefit from what I will say now. It is part of the necessary inculturation you can acquire, without which it is impossible to build universal brotherhood. On other occasions, the Christians among us will do the same with you.
Let’s move on to today’s thought. It’s entitled: “THE RISEN LORD”.
… It’s an idea, an intuition, perhaps a light I received some time ago, one of the many that are related, I think, to our charism. And perhaps it is one of the most beautiful ideas; undoubtedly it is among those that touched me the most personally. It can be called: “A confirmation of faith”.
A providential circumstance led me to examine in depth the reality of Jesus who, after his abandonment and death on the cross, rose from the dead.
Not only, but I had the opportunity to meditate intensely with my mind and heart on many details of Jesus’ resurrection and on his life after the resurrection. I was amazed (this is the exact word) by the majesty, the magnificence that emanated from this divine event: by the uniqueness of the risen Lord, by this supernatural fact which, as far as I know, is unique in the world.
For this reason, I cannot help but highlight it again this time.
Jesus’ resurrection is what most characterizes Christianity, is what distinguishes its founder, Jesus. The fact is that he is risen! Risen from the dead! Not in the way that others rose, like Lazarus, for instance, who then died when his time came. Jesus rose never to die again. He continues to live also as man in heaven, in the heart of the Trinity.
Five hundred people saw him. And he certainly wasn’t a ghost. It was him, really him. He said to Thomas “Put your finger here and see my hands, stretch out your hand and put it into my side” (Jn 20:27). He ate with his disciples, he spoke with them, he stayed with them for as long as forty days.
He had renounced his infinite greatness out of love for us and made himself small, a man among other men, like one of us, who are so small that we can’t even be seen from a plane.
In rising from the dead, he broke and he surpassed all the laws of nature, of the entire cosmos, and by doing so, he showed that he is greater than all that exists, greater than all he created, greater than all that can be imagined. Hence, at the mere intuition of this truth, we cannot help but see him as God, we cannot help but do as Thomas did. Kneeling down in adoration before him, we confess in all sincerity: “My Lord and my God”.
Even though I will never be able to describe it adequately, this is the effect that the light of the Risen Lord had on me.
Certainly, I already knew this; undoubtedly, I believed it with all my heart!
But in this experience, it was almost as if I saw it.
My faith became clarity, certainty, reasonable, I would say.
I saw with new eyes what he did during those fabulous new days on earth.
After an angel came down from heaven, overturned the stone of his sepulchre and announced his resurrection, the Risen Lord appeared first of all to Mary Magdalene, the former sinner, because he had become man for sinners.
Then we find him walking along the road to Emmaus. Great and immense as he was, he becomes the first scripture scholar, explaining the Scriptures to the two disciples.
Then we see him as the founder of his Church, laying his hands on his disciples to give them the Holy Spirit; we hear him saying extraordinary words to Peter whom he placed as the head of his Church.
Then he sends the disciples into the world to announce the Gospel, the new Kingdom he founded in the name of the Most Holy Trinity from where he descended and to where, with his coming ascension, he will return again in soul and body.
These are all things I already knew, but now they are new and absolutely true because of faith and reason.
And because he is Risen, the words he said to us before his death acquire unique brilliance and express indisputable truths. First and foremost, the words announcing our resurrection as well.
I knew it and believed it before too, because I am a Christian. But now I am doubly sure: I will rise, we will rise.
So to my many friends, to our friends who have already left for the next life and whom we might unconsciously think of as being lost, I cannot say: “good-bye”, but “UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN”, never more to be separated.
So great is God’s love for us.
I don’t know if I have been able to express, even a little, the grace, the light I received: a confirmation of faith.
May the Lord communicate it to all of you who are listening to me, as a confirmation of your faith.