Vatican City, 10 April 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis of this Wednesday’s general audience to the salvific importance of Jesus’ resurrection. After traversing St. Peter’s Square in the open-top car, greeting the thousands of persons applauding his appearance, the Pope explained that the Christian faith “is based upon Christ’s death and resurrection just like a house is built on its foundations. If those give way, the whole house topples. On the cross, Jesus offers himself, taking our sins upon himself and descending into the abyss of death, defeating it by his resurrection, eliminating it and opening the way to be reborn to new life.”
“With Jesus’ resurrection,” he continued, “something entirely new occurs. We are freed from the bondage of sin and become children of God. That is, we are reborn to a new life. When does this happen for us? In the Sacrament of Baptism. In the past this was normally received through immersion. … The those baptised would step out of the bath and put on the new garment, the white one. They were born to a new life, immersing themselves in Christ’s Death and Resurrection. They had become a child of God. St. Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, writes: ‘you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!”’ It is precisely the Holy Spirit that we have received in Baptism that teaches us, that urges us to say to God: ‘Father’, or better ‘Abba’, which means ‘dad’. This is our God: he is a dad to us. The Holy Spirit creates in us this new condition of being children of God and this is the greatest gift we receive from Jesus’ Paschal Mystery. God treats us as children, understands us, forgives us, embraces us, loves us, even when we make mistakes.”
Nevertheless, this filial relationship with God “isn’t like a treasure that we keep in a corner of our lives but it must grow, must be nourished every day by listening to the Word of God, by prayer, by participating in the Sacraments, especially those of Penance and the Eucharist, and by charity. We can live as children! This is our dignity: we have the dignity of children. Let us act as true children! This means that, every day, we have to allow Christ to transform us … It means trying to live as Christians, trying to follow him even if we see our limits and our weaknesses. The temptation to leave God aside and put ourselves in the centre is always at the door … That is why we must have the courage of faith and not let ourselves be led by the mentality that tells us: ‘You don’t need God. He’s not important for you,’ and so on. It is just the opposite: only by living as children of God, without being discouraged by our missteps or by our sins, feeling loved by him will our lives be new, inspired by serenity and joy. God is our strength! God is our hope!”
“We have to be the first to have a strong hold on this hope and we have to be its visible, clear, and bright sign for all. The Risen Lord is the hope that never fails, that does not disappoint. Hope does not disappoint, the hope of the Lord! How many times in our lives do hopes fade? How many times are the expectations that we hold in our hearts unrealized? Our hope as Christians is strong, sure, strong in this land where God has called us to walk, and is open to eternity because it is founded in God who … is always faithful to us. … Being a Christian cannot be reduced to following commands but means being in Christ, thinking like him, acting like him, loving like him. It means letting him take possession of our lives and change them, transform them, free them from the darkness of evil and sin.”
“To anyone who asks for a reason for our hope, let us point to the Risen Christ. Let us point him out with the proclamation of the Word, but especially with our resurrected lives. Let us show the joy of being children of God; the freedom that living in Christ gives us, which is the true freedom that saves us from the slavery of evil, sin, and death! Let us look to the heavenly Kingdom from which we have new light and strength in our commitment and our daily efforts. It is a precious service that we must give to our world, which often cannot lift its gaze upward and is unable to lift its gaze toward God.”
At the end of the audience, the Pope left the dais to greet and hug those on the sides of the Sagrato, including handicapped persons and newly weds, who had attended the catechesis.