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Monday, April 4, 2016

0463: Reflections on the Third Sunday of Easter
by Pope Francis



Entry 0463: Reflections on the Third Sunday of Easter  

by Pope Francis (Updated) 


Ofour occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the Third Sunday of Easter, on 14 April 2013, 4 May 2014, 19 April 2015, and 10 April 2016. Here are the texts of four brief reflections prior to the recitation of the prayer Regina Caeli and two homilies delivered by the Holy Father on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

St. Peter’s Square, Third Sunday of Easter, 14 April 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!

I would like to reflect briefly on the passage from the Acts of the Apostles that is read in the Liturgy of this Third Sunday of Easter. This text says that the Apostles’ first preaching in Jerusalem filled the city with the news that Jesus was truly risen in accordance with the Scriptures and was the Messiah foretold by the Prophets. The chief priests and elders of the city were endeavoring to crush the nascent community of believers in Christ and had the Apostles thrown into jail, ordering them to stop teaching in his name. But Peter and the other Eleven answered: “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:29-32). They therefore had the Apostles scourged and once again ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus. And they went away, as Scripture says, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” of Jesus (v. 41).

I ask myself: where did the first disciples find the strength to bear this witness? And that is not all: what was the source of their joy and of their courage to preach despite the obstacles and violence? Let us not forget that the Apostles were simple people; they were neither scribes nor doctors of the law, nor did they belong to the class of priests. With their limitations and with the authorities against them how did they manage to fill Jerusalem with their teaching (see Acts 5:28)?

It is clear that only the presence with them of the Risen Lord and the action of the Holy Spirit can explain this fact. The Lord who was with them and the Spirit who was impelling them to preach explain this extraordinary fact. Their faith was based on such a strong personal experience of the dead and Risen Christ that they feared nothing and no one, and even saw persecution as a cause of honor that enabled them to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to be like him, witnessing with their life.

This history of the first Christian community tells us something very important which applies to the Church in all times and also to us. When a person truly knows Jesus Christ and believes in him that person experiences his presence in life as well as the power of his Resurrection and cannot but communicate this experience. And if this person meets with misunderstanding or adversity, he behaves like Jesus in his Passion: he answers with love and with the power of the truth.

In praying the Regina Caeli together, let us ask for the help of Mary Most Holy so that the Church throughout the world may proclaim the Resurrection of the Lord with candor and courage and give credible witness to it with signs of brotherly love. Brotherly love is the closest testimony we can give that Jesus is alive with us, that Jesus is risen.

Let us pray in a special way for Christians who are suffering persecution; in our day there are so many Christians who are suffering persecution—so, so many, in a great many countries: let us pray for them, with love, from our heart. May they feel the living and comforting presence of the Risen Lord.


HOLY MASS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, Third Sunday of Easter, 14 April 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

It is a joy for me to celebrate Mass with you in this Basilica. I greet the Archpriest, Cardinal James Harvey, and I thank him for the words that he has addressed to me. Along with him, I greet and thank the various institutions that form part of this Basilica, and all of you. We are at the tomb of Saint Paul, a great yet humble Apostle of the Lord, who proclaimed him by word, bore witness to him by martyrdom and worshipped him with all his heart. These are the three key ideas on which I would like to reflect in the light of the word of God that we have heard: proclamation, witness, worship.

1. In the First Reading, what strikes us is the strength of Peter and the other Apostles. In response to the order to be silent, no longer to teach in the name of Jesus, no longer to proclaim his message, they respond clearly: “We must obey God, rather than men.” And they remain undeterred even when flogged, ill-treated and imprisoned. Peter and the Apostles proclaim courageously, fearlessly, what they have received: the Gospel of Jesus. And we? Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? Do we know how to speak of Christ, of what he represents for us, in our families, among the people who form part of our daily lives? Faith is born from listening, and is strengthened by proclamation.

2. But let us take a further step: the proclamation made by Peter and the Apostles does not merely consist of words: fidelity to Christ affects their whole lives, which are changed, given a new direction, and it is through their lives that they bear witness to the faith and to the proclamation of Christ. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter three times to feed his flock, to feed it with his love, and he prophesies to him: “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go” (Jn 21:18). These words are addressed first and foremost to those of us who are pastors: we cannot feed God’s flock unless we let ourselves be carried by God’s will even where we would rather not go, unless we are prepared to bear witness to Christ with the gift of ourselves, unreservedly, not in a calculating way, sometimes even at the cost of our lives. But this also applies to everyone: we all have to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel. We should all ask ourselves: How do I bear witness to Christ through my faith? Do I have the courage of Peter and the other Apostles, to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, obedient to God? To be sure, the testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco, there is a variety of colors and shades; yet they are all important, even those which do not stand out. In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, friendships. There are the saints of every day, the “hidden” saints, a sort of “middle class of holiness,” as a French author said, that “middle class of holiness” to which we can all belong. But in different parts of the world, there are also those who suffer, like Peter and the Apostles, on account of the Gospel; there are those who give their lives in order to remain faithful to Christ by means of a witness marked by the shedding of their blood. Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! I am thinking now of some advice that Saint Francis of Assisi gave his brothers: preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words. Preaching with your life, with your witness. Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility.

3. But all this is possible only if we recognize Jesus Christ, because it is he who has called us, he who has invited us to travel his path, he who has chosen us. Proclamation and witness are only possible if we are close to him, just as Peter, John and the other disciples in today’s Gospel passage were gathered around the Risen Jesus; there is a daily closeness to him: they know very well who he is, they know him. The Evangelist stresses the fact that “no one dared ask him: ‘Who are you?’—they knew it was the Lord” (Jn 21:12). And this is important for us: living an intense relationship with Jesus, an intimacy of dialogue and of life, in such a way as to recognize him as “the Lord.” Worshipping him! The passage that we heard from the Book of Revelation speaks to us of worship: the myriads of angels, all creatures, the living beings, the elders, prostrate themselves before the Throne of God and of the Lamb that was slain, namely Christ, to whom be praise, honor and glory (see Rev 5:11-14). I would like all of us to ask ourselves this question: You, I, do we worship the Lord? Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? What does it mean, then, to worship God? It means learning to be with him, it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him, and it means sensing that his presence is the most true, the most good, the most important thing of all. All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshipping the Lord means giving him the place that he must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing—not only by our words—that he alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.

This has a consequence in our lives: we have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, careerism, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others. This evening I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the highway of our lives.

Dear brothers and sisters, each day the Lord calls us to follow him with courage and fidelity; he has made us the great gift of choosing us as his disciples; he invites us to proclaim him with joy as the Risen one, but he asks us to do so by word and by the witness of our lives, in daily life. The Lord is the only God of our lives, and he invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone. To proclaim, to witness, to adore. May the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Paul help us on this journey and intercede for us. Amen.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CAELI

Saint Peter’s Square, Third Sunday of Easter, 4 May 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

The Gospel from this Sunday, which is the Third Sunday of Easter, is that of the disciples of Emmaus (see Lk 24:13-35). They were two of Jesus’ disciples who, after his death and the Sabbath was past, leave Jerusalem and return, sad and dejected, to their village which was named Emmaus. Along the way the Risen Jesus draws near to them, but they do not recognize him. Seeing them so sad, he first helps them to understand that the Passion and death of the Messiah were foreseen in the plan of God and announced in the Sacred Scriptures: and thus he rekindled a fire of hope in their hearts.

At that point, the two disciples experienced an extraordinary attraction to the mysterious man, and they invited him to stay with them that evening. Jesus accepted and went into the house with them. When, at table, he blessed the bread and broke it, they recognized him, but he vanished out of their sight, leaving them full of wonder. After being enlightened by the Word, they had recognized the Risen Jesus in the breaking of the bread, a new sign of his presence. And immediately they felt the need to go back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples about their experience, that they had met the living Jesus and recognized him in the act of the breaking of the bread.

The road to Emmaus thus becomes a symbol of our journey of faith: the Scriptures and the Eucharist are the indispensable elements for encountering the Lord. We too often go to Sunday Mass with our worries, difficulties and disappointments. Life sometimes wounds us and we go away feeling sad, towards our “Emmaus,” turning our backs on God’s plan. We distance ourselves from God. But the Liturgy of the Word welcomes us: Jesus explains the Scriptures to us and rekindles in our hearts the warmth of faith and hope, and in Communion he gives us strength. The Word of God, the Eucharist. Read a passage of the Gospel every day. Remember it well: read a passage from the Gospel every day, and on Sundays go to Communion, to receive Jesus. This is what happened to the disciples of Emmaus: they received the Word; they shared the breaking of bread and from feeling sad and defeated they became joyful. Dear brothers and sisters, the Word of God and the Eucharist fill us with joy always. Remember it well! When you are sad, take up the Word of God. When you are down, take up the Word of God and go to Sunday Mass and receive Communion, to participate in the mystery of Jesus. The Word of God, the Eucharist: they fill us with joy.

Through the intercession of Most Holy Mary, let us pray that every Christian, in reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus, especially at Sunday Mass, may rediscover the grace of the transforming encounter with the Lord, with the Risen Lord, who is with us always. There is always a Word of God that gives us guidance after we slip; and through our weariness and disappointments there is always a Bread that is broken that keeps us going on the journey.


HOLY MASS FOR THE POLISH COMMUNITY
IN THANKSGIVING FOR THE CANONIZATION OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Polish National Church of Saint Stanislaus
Rome, Third Sunday of Easter, 4 May 2014

In the passage from the Acts of the Apostles we heard the voice of Peter, who with power announces the Resurrection of Jesus. Peter is a witness to hope in Christ. And in the Second Reading it is Peter again who confirms the faithful in faith in Christ, writing: “Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead, so that your faith and hope are in God” (Pet 1:21). Peter is the community’s firm reference point, because he is founded on the Rock that is Christ. As was John Paul II, a true stone anchored to the great Rock.

One week after the Canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II, we are gathered in this church of the Poles in Rome to thank the Lord for the gift of the holy Bishop of Rome who was a son of your nation. This church to which he came more than 80 times! He always came here, at various times in his life and in the life of Poland. In times of sadness and dejection, when all seemed lost, he did not lose hope, because his faith and hope were fixed in God (see 1 Pet 1:21). And thus he was a foundation stone, a rock for this community that prays here, that listens to the Word here, prepares for the Sacraments and administers them, welcomes those in need, sings and celebrates, and from here returns to the outskirts of Rome.

Brothers and sisters, you belong to a people that has been severely tried throughout its history. The Polish people know well that in order to enter into glory one must pass through the Passion and the Cross (see Lk 24:26). And it knows it not because it has studied it, it knows it because it has lived it. St John Paul II, as a worthy son of his earthly fatherland, followed this path. He followed it in an exemplary way, having received from God to be totally stripped of self. That is why his “flesh will dwell in hope” (see Acts 2:26; Ps 19:9).

And us? Are we ready to follow this road?

You, dear brethren, who today form the Polish Christian community in Rome, do you want to follow this road?

St Peter, also through the voice of John Paul II, tells you: Conduct yourselves with fear of God throughout the time of your exile here below (see 1 Pet 1:17). It is true, we are wayfarers, but we are not wanderers! On a journey, but we know where we are going! Wanderers do not know where. We are pilgrims, but not vagabonds—as St John Paul II would say.

At the outset the two disciples of Emmaus were wanderers, they did not know where they would end up, but on their return, not so! On their return they were witnesses of the hope that is Christ! For they had met Him, the Risen Wayfarer. This Jesus, he is the Risen Wayfarer who walks with us. Jesus is here today, he is among us. He is here in his Word, he is here on the altar, he walks with us, he is the Risen Wayfarer.

We too can become “risen wayfarers,” if his Word warms our hearts, and his Eucharist opens our eyes to faith and nourishes us with hope and charity. We too can walk beside our brothers and sisters who are downcast and in despair, and warm their hearts with the Gospel, and break with them the bread of brotherhood.

May St John Paul II help us to be “risen wayfarers.” Amen.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Third Sunday of Easter, 19 April 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

In the Bible Readings of today’s liturgy the word “witnesses” is mentioned twice. The first time it is on the lips of Peter who, after the healing of the paralytic at the Door of the Temple of Jerusalem, exclaims: You “killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses” (Acts 3:15). The second time it is on the lips of the Risen Jesus. On the evening of Easter he opens the minds of the disciples to the mystery of his death and Resurrection, saying to them: “You are witnesses to these things” (Lk 24:48). The Apostles, who saw the Risen Christ with their own eyes, could not keep silent about their extraordinary experience. He had shown himself to them so that the truth of his Resurrection would reach everyone by way of their witness. The Church has the duty to continue this mission over time. Every baptized person is called to bear witness, with their life and words, that Jesus is Risen, that Jesus is alive and present among us. We are all called to testify that Jesus is alive.

We may ask ourselves: who is a witness? A witness is a person who has seen, who recalls and tells. See, recall and tell: these are three verbs which describe the identity and mission. A witness is a person who has seen with an objective eye, has seen reality, but not with an indifferent eye; he has seen and has let himself become involved in the event. For this reason, one recalls, not only because she knows how to reconstruct the events exactly but also because those facts spoke to her and she grasped their profound meaning. Then a witness tells, not in a cold and detached way but as one who has allowed himself to be called into question and from that day changed the way of life. A witness is someone who has changed his or her life.

The content of Christian witness is not a theory, it’s not an ideology or a complex system of precepts and prohibitions or a moralist theory, but a message of salvation, a real event, rather a Person: it is the Risen Christ, the living and only Savior of all. He can be testified to by those who have personal experience of Him, in prayer and in the Church, through a journey that has its foundation in Baptism, its nourishment in the Eucharist, its seal in Confirmation, its continual conversion in Penitence. Thanks to this journey, ever guided by the Word of God, every Christian can become a witness of the Risen Jesus. And his/her witness is all the more credible, the more it shines through a life lived by the Gospel, a joyful, courageous, gentle peaceful, merciful life. Instead, if a Christian gives in to ease, vanity, selfishness, if he or she becomes deaf and blind to the question of “resurrection” of many brothers and sisters, how can he/she communicate the living Jesus, how can the Christian communicate the freeing power of the living Jesus and his infinite tenderness?

May Mary our Mother sustain us by her intercession, that we might become, with all our limitations but by the grace of faith, witnesses of the Risen Lord, bringing the Paschal gifts of joy and peace to the people we encounter.


POPE FRANCIS

REGINA CÆLI

Saint Peter’s Square, Third Sunday of Easter, 10 April 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today’s Gospel recounts the third apparition of the Risen Jesus to the disciples, with the account of the miraculous catch on the shore of the lake of Galilee (see Jn 21:1-19). The narrative is situated in the context of the everyday life of the disciples, who returned to their land and to their work as fishermen, after the shocking days of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. It was difficult for them to understand what had taken place. Even though everything seemed finished, Jesus “seeks” his disciples once more. It is He who goes to seek them. This time he meets them at the lake, where they have spent the night in their boats catching nothing. The nets appear empty, in a certain sense, like the tally of their experience with Jesus: they met him, they left everything to follow him, full of hope, and now? Yes, they saw he was risen, but then they were thought: “He went away and left us. It was like a dream.”

So it is that at sunrise Jesus presents himself on the lakeshore; however they do not recognize him (see v. 4). The Lord says to those tired and disappointed fishermen: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some” (v. 6). The disciples trust in Jesus and the result is an incredibly abundant catch. At this point John turns to Peter and says: “It is the Lord!” (v. 7). Right away Peter throws himself into the water and swims to the shore, toward Jesus. In that exclamation: “It is the Lord!”, there is all the enthusiasm of the Paschal faith, full of joy and wonder, which sharply contrasts with the disappearance, the dejection, the sense of powerlessness that had accumulated in the disciples’ hearts. The presence of the Risen Jesus transforms everything: darkness has become light, futile work has again become fruitful and promising, the sense of weariness and abandonment give way to a new impetus and to the certainty that He is with us.

From that time, these same sentiments enliven the Church, the Community of the Risen One. All of us are the community of the Risen One! At first glance it might sometimes seem that the darkness of evil and the toil of daily living have got the upper hand, the Church knows with certainty that the now everlasting light of Easter shines upon those who follow the Lord Jesus. The great message of the Resurrection instills in the hearts of believers profound joy and invincible hope. Christ is truly risen! Today too, the Church continues to make this joyous message resound: joy and hope continue to flow in hearts, in faces, in gestures, in words. We Christians are all called to communicate this message of resurrection to those we meet, especially to those who suffer, to those who are alone, to those who find themselves in precarious conditions, to the sick, to refugees, to the marginalized. Let us make a ray of the light of the Risen Christ, a sign of his powerful mercy, reach everyone.

May he, the Lord, also renew in us the Paschal faith. May he render us ever more aware of our mission at the service of the Gospel and of our brothers and sisters; may he fill us with his Holy Spirit so that, sustained by the intercession of Mary, with all the Church we may proclaim the greatness of his love and the abundance of his mercy



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For reflections on the Third Sunday of Easter 

 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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