The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to the transformation which Jesus' Resurrection brought about in His disciples, also reflecting on the meaning that Easter has for Christians today. Faith in the Risen One, he said, "transforms our lives; it frees them from fear, gives them firm hope, and infuses them with something that provides existence with full meaning: the love of God".
Benedict XVI explained how on the evening of the day of the Resurrection the disciples were at home behind locked doors, full of fear and doubt at the recollection of the passion of their Lord. "This situation of anguish changed radically when Jesus arrived. He entered through the closed doors, was among them and brought them peace", peace which "for the community became source of joy, certainty of victory, trusting reliance on God".
After His greeting, Jesus showed His wounds to the disciples, "signs of what had befallen and would never be cancelled. His glorious humanity remained 'wounded'. The gesture had the aim of confirming the new reality of the Resurrection. The Christ Who returned among His followers was a real person, the same Jesus Who three days earlier had been nailed to the cross. Thus, in the shining light of Easter, in the meeting with the Risen One, the disciples came to understand the salvific meaning of His passion and death. Then sadness and fear became overwhelming joy".
Jesus greeted them again: "Peace be with you". Yet this, the Pope explained, was not just a greeting, "it was a gift, the gift the Risen One made to His friends. At the same time it was a commission: the peace which Christ had bought with His blood was for them, but it was also for everyone else, and the disciples would have to carry it throughout the world". Jesus "had completed His mission in the world, now it was up to them to to sow faith in people's hearts".
However, the Lord knew that His followers were still afraid. "For this reason He breathed upon them and regenerated them in His Spirit. This gesture was the sign of the new creation. With the gift of the Holy Spirit which came from the Risen Christ, a new world began".
"Today too the Risen One enters our homes and hearts, although sometimes the doors are closed", the Pope said, "He enters bringing joy and peace, life and hope, gifts we need for our human and spiritual rebirth". Only He can put an end to division, enmity, rancour, envy, mistrust and indifference. Only He can give meaning to the lives of those who are weary, sad and without hope.
This was the experience of the two disciples who were walking to Emmaus, full of foreboding at the recent death of their Master. Jesus came up to them and accompanied them without being recognised, explaining the meaning of Sacred Scripture to help them understand His salvific mission. Later they asked Jesus to stay with them and recognised him as He blessed and broke the bread. "This episode", said the Holy Father, "shows us two privileged 'places' in which we can meet the Risen One Who transforms our lives: ... the Word and the Eucharist".
The disciples of Emmaus returned to Jerusalem to join the others. "Their enthusiasm for the faith was reborn, their love for the community and their need to communicate the good news. The Master rose and with Him all life resurges. Bearing witness to this event became an irrepressible need for them".
For Christians, Easter must be a time for the joyful and enthusiastic rediscovery of the sources of the faith. "This means following the same path as that along which Jesus directed the two disciples of Emmaus, through the rediscovery of the Word of God and the Eucharist. The culmination of this journey, then as now, is Eucharistic communion. In communion Jesus nourishes us with His Body and His Blood, becoming present in our lives, making us new and animating us with the power of the Holy Spirit".
In conclusion the Holy Father invited Christians to remain faithful to the Risen One Who "living and true, is always present among us, Who walks with us to guide our lives", and Who "has the power to give life, to make us reborn as children of God, capable of believing and loving".
Before the audience, Pope Benedict blessed a mosaic representing the Holy Family. It will be brought to Milan for the World Meeting of Families which begins on May 30th.