CHRIST'S RESURRECTION WAS A CONCRETE EVENT
Pope John Paul II
Before reciting the Regina Caeli on Sunday, 21 April, the Holy Father reflected on the concrete reality of Christ's Resurrection as the basis of the Christian faith. He also called for peace in the Middle East and for a ban on the production and use of anti-personnel mines. Here is a translation of his address, which was given in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. In the liturgical season running from Easter to Pentecost, the Church is recollected in contemplation of the risen Christ. Thus she relives the primordial experience that lies at the basis of her existence. She feels imbued with the same wonder as Mary Magdalen and the other women who went to Christ's tomb on Easter morning and found it empty. That tomb became the womb of life.
Whoever had condemned Jesus, deceived himself that he had buried his cause under an ice-cold tombstone. The disciples themselves gave into the feeling of irreparable failure. We understand their surprise, then, and even their distrust in the news of the empty tomb. But the Risen One did not delay in making himself seen and they yielded to reality. They saw and believed! Two thousand years later, we still sense the unspeakable emotion that overcame them when they heard the Master's greeting: "Peace be with you.'".
2. The Church is based on their extraordinary experience. The first proclamation of the Gospel was nothing other than the testimony of this event: "This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses!" (Acts 2:32). The Christian faith is so linked with this truth that Paul did not hesitate to declare: "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor 15:14). Along these lines the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: "The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community, handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 638).
Christ's Resurrection is the strength, the secret of Christianity. It is not a question of mythology or of mere symbolism, but of a concrete event. It is confirmed by sure and convincing proofs. The acceptance of this truth, although the fruit of the Holy Spirit's grace, rests at the same time on a solid historical base. On the threshold of the third millennium, the new effort of evangelization can begin only from a renewed experience of this Mystery, accepted in faith and witnessed to in life.
3. Regina caeli, laetare! Rejoice, Holy Virgin, because he whom you bore in your womb is risen! Dear brothers and sisters, let us try to relive the joy of the Resurrection with Mary's heart. Even in the darkness of Good Friday she prepared herself to receive the light of Easter morning.
Let us ask her to obtain for us a deep faith in this extraordinary event, which is salvation and hope for the world.
The Holy Father then spoke of the bombings in Lebanon and appealed for true peace and justice. He also called for a ban on anti-personnel mines and recalled the 10th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, thanking those who have come to the aid of families and children.
Last week was unfortunately marked by incredible violence, which once again has shaken the Middle East. It was again the civilian population-especially in Lebanon-which paid the price for acts of war for which it is difficult to find acceptable justification.
To the combatants on all sides and to those who share their attitude, I repeat that true peace and true justice cannot come through hatred and armed violence.
In this context of suffering, I would also like to recall that tomorrow in Geneva, at the United Nations, an important meeting will open for the elimination of particularly harmful conventional weapons, especially anti-personnel mines. These are weapons buried in the tens of millions in many parts of the world, particularly in Cambodia, Angola, Afghanistan and Bosnia-Hercegovina. They produce devastating effects on the civilian population, primarily on children.
To all who are responsible, I feel it necessary to make a heartfelt appeal: reject these instruments of death and definitively ban their production, sale and use.
Next Thursday is the 10th anniversary of the terrible nuclear accident at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine. At this time I would like to recall the international solidarity that began then and still continues towards the many families involved and, in a special way, towards the very young. Many Catholic institutions in Italy, Poland and other countries welcomed these children and aided them. I express my deep appreciation to them.
May God in his Omnipotence and Mercy grant consolation to the suffering and inspire responsibility in those with decision-making authority, so that such tragedies will never happen again.
Weekly Edition in English
24 April 1996
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