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Full text of Pope Francis’s Wednesday General Audience

By on Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Pope Francis in St Peter's Square (Photo: PA)

Pope Francis in St Peter's Square (Photo: PA)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we turn to the Catechism of the Year of Faith. In the Creed we repeat this phrase: “He rose again on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures”. This is the very event that we are celebrating: the Resurrection of Jesus, the center of the Christian message that has resounded since the beginning and has been handed down so that it may reach us today. Saint Paul writes to the Christians of Corinth: “For I handed on to you …what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve”(1 Cor 15:3-5). This brief confession of faith announces the Paschal Mystery, with the first appearances of the Risen Christ to Peter and the Twelve: the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is the heart of our hope. Without this faith in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus our hope would be weak, but it wouldn’0t even be hope, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is the heart of our hope. The Apostle says: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins” (v. 17).

Unfortunately, there have often been attempts to obscure faith in the Resurrection of Jesus, and doubts have crept in even among believers themselves. A watered down faith, as we would say, not a strong faith. This is because of superficiality, sometimes because of indifference, occupied by a thousand things considered more important than the faith, or because of a purely horizontal vision of life. But it is the Resurrection that gives us the greatest hope, because it opens our lives and the life of the world to the eternal future of God, to full happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin, death can be defeated. And this leads us to live everyday realities with more confidence, to face them with courage and commitment. The Resurrection of Christ shines a new light on these daily realities. The Resurrection of Christ is our strength!

But how was the truth of faith in Christ’s Resurrection transmitted? There are two kinds of witness in the New Testament: some are in the form of the profession of the faith, namely, synthetic formulas that indicate the center of the faith. Instead, others are in the form of an account of the event of the Resurrection and the facts connected to it. The form of the profession of faith, for example, is what we have just heard, or that of the Letter to the Romans where Paul writes: ” for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved “(10.9). From the earliest days of the Church, faith in the Mystery of Death and Resurrection of Jesus is steadfast and clear.

Today, however, I would like to dwell the second, on testimony in the form of the accounts that we find in the Gospels. First, we note that the first witnesses to this event were the women. At dawn, they go to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, and find the first sign: the empty tomb (Mk 16:1). This is followed by an encounter with a Messenger of God who proclaims: Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One, he is not here, he is risen (cf. vv. 5-6). The women are driven by love and know how to accept this proclamation with faith: they believe, and immediately transmit it, they do not keep it for themselves. They cannot contain the joy of knowing that Jesus is alive, the hope that fills their heart. This should also be the same in our lives. Let us feel the joy of being Christian! We believe in the Risen One who has conquered evil and death! Let us also have the courage to “go out” to bring this joy and light to all the places of our lives! The Resurrection of Christ is our greatest certainty, it is our most precious treasure! How can we not share this treasure, this beautiful certainty with others! It’s not just for us it’s to be transmitted, shared with others this is our testimony!

Another element. In the professions of faith of the New Testament, only men are remembered as witnesses of the Resurrection, the Apostles, but not the women. This is because, according to the Jewish Law of the time, women and children were not considered reliable, credible witnesses. In the Gospels, however, women have a primary, fundamental role. Here we can see an argument in favor of the historicity of the Resurrection: if it were a invented, in the context of that time it would not have been linked to the testimony of women. Instead, the evangelists simply narrate what happened: the women were the first witnesses. This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria: the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people, the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women. This is beautiful, and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen! Mothers go forward with this witness! What matters to God is our heart, if we are open to Him, if we are like trusting children. But this also leads us to reflect on how in the Church and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love. The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however! Peter runs to the tomb, but stops before the empty tomb; Thomas has to touch the wounds of the body of Jesus with his hands. In our journey of faith it is important to know and feel that God loves us, do not be afraid to love: faith is professed with the mouth and heart, with the word and love.

After the apparitions to women, there were others: Jesus becomes present in a new way: He is the Crucified One, but his body is glorious; He did not return to an earthly life, but a new condition. At first they did not recognize him, and only through his words and deeds were their eyes opened: the encounter with the Risen Lord transforms, it gives new strength to faith, an unshakable foundation. The Risen Christ also reveals Himself to us with many signs: Sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, the other Sacraments, charity, these gestures of love bring a ray of the Risen One.

Let us be enlightened by the Resurrection of Christ, let us be transformed by His power, so that through us the signs of death give way to signs of life in the world! I see that there are many young people in the Square! Young boys and girls, to you I say bring forth this certainty to the world: the Lord is Alive and walks beside us on our life’s journey! Bring forth this hope, be anchored in this hope, the hope that comes from heaven! Be anchored and bring forth the hope! You witnesses of Christ bring forth hope to this world that is aged by wars and sin! Go forward young people!

  • Hey Man Bad Acid

    Wednesday Audience, man? Wow, I thought it was still Monday, that’s far out.

  • An onlooker

    It seems to be taking people longer than usual to find something insulting and unpleasant to say in response to this. I have every confidence, however, that you’ll get there in the end, especially as it is especially powerful, uplifting and heartwarming.

  • Cogito Dexter

    More inspiration from a wonderful Pope. Again, my optimism knows no bounds. God bless Pope Francis!

  • la catholic state

    Nice to hear the homely reference to mothers (and grandmothers if you watch the video)…..and their role in teaching the faith to children. It’s a break from the constant plugging of career women.

  • Judy Stasiewicz Hutchinson Chr

    Jesus said that the least shall be first in the kingdom of Heaven. Women have always been the grass roots transmitters of faith. Thank you, Pope Francis, for recognizing that.

  • lauren

    Usa young people have a lot of work to d
    o, young adaults need to guide them and to fight a lot of demons

  • Counterpoint

    On the other hand you were quite quick off the mark to take a pot shot at others.

  • Kevin

    “if it were invented, in the context of that time it would not have been linked to the testimony of women”

    This is an interesting point for Catholic apologetics, which it is important to revive.

  • An onlooker

    Pot shot? Are you comparing this forum to a fairground side show?



  • Elena Selga


  • $27740841

    The women were first to encounter the Risen Christ because they had gone to the tomb to anoint Christ’s Body, a traditional task performed by women at the time. They were also allowed to go to the tomb because they weren’t considered important or significant enough to be a threat to the authorities, as was pointed by another poster elsewhere.
    This suggests that by performing their role as women, and by not pushing themselves into roles allocated to men, they were blessed with being the first witnesses to the Resurrection.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    …..”the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is the heart of our hope.”

    “The Sacrificial Death of Jesus” the Lord is more and better expressive and relevant to our human condition.

    Or still better “Divine sacrifice”, “The Sacrificial Death of the Son of God Jesus the Lord”, “The Sacrificial Death of the Son of The Living God.”

    or any other, please?

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    “The Apostle says: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins” (v. 17)”

    I hope and pray that Our Pope Francis will move toward becoming a Personal Witness, an APOSTLE in our times.

    Official witnessing in the way it used to be done (of course in his case even this is different) is one thing but being a personal witness is a different thing. Here the reference point will be oneself having personally experienced the Lord, like when I asked the Lord, he said to me, “……………”; I prayed over a blind boy and Jesus opened his eyes… etc.

    Thank you Jesus for making our Pope Francis A TRUE APOSTLE.
    Thank you Mother Mary, Mystical Rose of God for your help of intercession.

    Thank you God’s Angels and Saints.

  • Benedict Carter

    Every one of us “personally experienced the Lord” each time we receive Holy Communion or go to Confession.

    You sound like a Born-Againer.

  • Julian Lord

    Not sure about the all-caps — but neither John Paul I nor John Paul II prior to the assassination attempt fit your weird description of “the other Popes” ; nor Benedict XVI really, if you think about it for longer than it takes to have a knee-jerk reaction.

  • NatOns

    And thank God that many more Catholic women are also beginning to re-recognize it too .. rather than seeking to out-man men, in a foolish and mutually self-defeating rivalry!

    ‘The Gospels then tell us that the women, unlike the Twelve, did not abandon Jesus in the hour of his Passion (cf. Mt 27:56, 61; Mk 15:40). Among them, Mary Magdalene stands out in particular. Not only was she present at the Passion, but she was also the first witness and herald of the Risen One (cf. Jn 20:1, 11-18).

    It was precisely to Mary Magdalene that St. Thomas Aquinas reserved the special title, “Apostle of the Apostles” (apostolorum apostola), dedicating to her this beautiful comment: “Just as a woman had announced the words of death to the first man, so also a woman was the first to announce to the Apostles the words of life” (Super Ioannem, ed. Cai, § 2519).

    Nor was the female presence in the sphere of the primitive Church in any way secondary. We will not insist on the four unnamed daughters of Philip the “Deacon” who lived at Caesarea; they were all endowed with the “gift of prophecy”, as St Luke tells us, that is, the faculty of intervening publicly under the action of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 21:9). The brevity of information does not permit more precise deductions.’

    And who, some may still be puzzled, had such fulsome, inestimable and genuine praise for the role that women .. as women .. have fulfilled in the life of the Church – and not as baby factories, kitchen skivvies or secluded recollects?

    God Bless Our Pope .. and all who are loyal to the Successors of Peter’s witness at Rome.

  • Michelle Egan

    I get the impression some people love Pope Francis so much is that they can use him to disingenuously
    to promote their liberal agenda. Sadly since the liturgy upholds all
    the great truths of the faith, the libs aren’t stupid enough not to
    direct all their attention in this area. That’s is why so many of them
    are bigging up the Holy Father’s women foot washing, all though they are
    not saying this immediately, they will slowly (frog in the water
    syndrome) use this to bring all manner of heresy into the Church. We can
    only pray and plead for our Pope that he realises that the liturgy is the greatest act of the Church, and is something that he ignores or plays down at our peril. That is why so many practicing Catholics loved Pope Benedict XVI, he understood that the Church stands or falls by the liturgy.

  • jferioli3

    ever notice how war and sin – age; yet faith and love – mature like the little flower who matured at a young age —- which are you? or is aged-ness finally bringing maturity? How blessed are those who mature w/o first being aged!