Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Easter Encounter

"What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life. For the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us. What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:1-3).

The vivid letters of Saint John express the incarnate reality of the resurrected Jesus we celebrate this work.

This day also marks the 93rd birthday of the monk at Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican. For seven years he has resided there in retirement, a contemplative with frail but stable health. Before that, he was the bishop of Rome, the Servant of the Servants of God, Benedict the XVIth Pope of that name.

The resignation of the now-Emeritus Pope was an unusual and dramatic event, though by now we have grown accustomed to it. What we must not forget, however, are the eight years of outstanding teaching and preaching he carried out as the Successor of Saint Peter, a legacy from which we have much to learn.

Pope Benedict was (and remains) a powerful witness to the reality of the risen Lord. Here are some of his words from Easter Sunday on April 5, 2012:

"Every Christian relives the experience of Mary Magdalene. It involves an encounter which changes our lives: the encounter with a unique Man who lets us experience all God’s goodness and truth, who frees us from evil not in a superficial and fleeting way, but sets us free radically, heals us completely and restores our dignity.... 'Christ my hope' means that all my yearnings for goodness find in him a real possibility of fulfilment: with him I can hope for a life that is good, full and eternal, for God himself has drawn near to us, even sharing our humanity.

"If Jesus is risen, then – and only then – has something truly new happened, something that changes the state of humanity and the world. Then he, Jesus, is someone in whom we can put absolute trust; we can put our trust not only in his message but in Jesus himself, for the Risen One does not belong to the past, but is present today, alive." 

~Benedict XVI, Easter Message 2012