“Everyone Can Receive the Gift of Peace and Life”
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, APRIL 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered at the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo and, via television, with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.
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Dear brothers and sisters!
This Sunday is the conclusion of the Octave of Easter. It is a unique day “made by the Lord,” marked by the resurrection and the joy of the disciples in seeing Jesus. From antiquity this Sunday has been called Sunday “in albis,” from the Latin word “alba” (white), because of the white vestments the neophytes put on at their baptism on Easter night and set aside eight days later. On April 30, 2000, Venerable John Paul II named this same Sunday for Divine Mercy on the occasion of the canonization of Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska.
The Gospel passage from St. John (20:19-31) for this Sunday is rich with divine mercy and goodness. There it is told that Jesus, after the resurrection, visited his disciples, passing through the closed doors of the cenacle. St. Augustine explains that “the closed doors did not impede the entrance of that body in which divinity lived. He who in his birth left the virginity of his mother intact could enter the cenacle despite the doors being closed” (In Ioh. 121, 4: CCL 36/7, 667); and St. Gregory the Great added that the Redeemer, after his resurrection, appeared with a body of an incorruptible and palpable nature but in the state of glory (cf. Hom. in Evag., 21,1: CCL 141, 219). Jesus showed the signs of the passion to the point of permitting the incredulous Thomas to touch him.
How is it possible, however, for a disciple to doubt? In reality the divine condescension allows us to draw profit even from the incredulous Thomas, together with the believing disciples. In fact, touching the Lord’s wounds, the hesitant disciple not only heals his own diffidence but ours too.
The visit of the Risen One is not limited to the space of the cenacle but it goes beyond so that everyone can receive the gift of peace and life with the “creative breath.” Indeed, twice Jesus says to the disciples: “Peace be with you!” and he adds: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Having said this, he breathes upon them, saying: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Those whose sins you forgive shall be forgiven and those whose sins you do not forgive shall not be forgiven.” This is the mission of the Church perennially assisted by the Paraclete: to bring to all the glad tidings, the joyous reality of the merciful Love of God, “so that,” as St. John says, “you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and so that, believing, you may have life in his name” (20:31).
In light of this word, I encourage especially all pastors to follow the example of the saintly Curé d’Ars, who, “in his time was able to transform the hearts and the lives of so many people because he enabled them to experience the Lord’s merciful love. Our own time urgently needs a similar proclamation and witness to the truth of Love” (“Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests”).
In this way we will render ever more familiar and close him who our eyes have not seen but whose infinite mercy we are absolutely certain of. We ask Mary, the Queen of the Apostles, to sustain the mission of the Church, and we invoke her exultant with joy.
[The Pope then greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]
As we all know, yesterday a tragic airplane accident occurred near Smolensk in which the president of Poland, Mr. Lech Kaczynski, his wife, a number of senior officials of the Polish government and all those traveling with him, including the archbishop of the Military Ordinariate, perished.
In expressing my deepest condolences, from my heart I assure intercessory prayers for the victims and prayers of support for the beloved Polish nation.
Yesterday the exhibition of the Holy Shroud began in Turin. I too, if it pleases God, will travel to venerate it on May 2. I rejoice for this event, which once again is encouraging a large movement of pilgrims as well as studies, reflections and above all an extraordinary recollection of the mystery of Christ’s suffering. I hope that this act of veneration will help all to seek the Face of God, which was the intimate aspiration of the Apostles and is [also] our own.
I address a special greeting to the pilgrims gathered in Rome on the occasion of Divine Mercy Sunday. I bless everyone from my heart, especially the coordinators of the Center for Spirituality of the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia. May the image of the Merciful Jesus, dear friends, shine forth in you, in your life!