Pope Francis said Monday that Christians should “never tire of seeking the risen Christ.”
Speaking before the recitation of the Regina Coeli April 5, the pope noted that Easter Monday is known in Italy as Lunedì dell’Angelo, or the Monday of the Angel.
Referring to the Gospel reading (Matthew 28:1-15) in which Mary Magdalene and the other Mary encountered an angel at the empty tomb while looking for Jesus, he observed that the angel greeted the women with the words “Do not be afraid.”
“We can reap a precious teaching from the angel’s words: we should never tire of seeking the risen Christ who gives life in abundance to those who meet him,” he said.
The pope gave his address in the library of the Apostolic Palace due to coronavirus restrictions. Italy entered a three-day nationwide lockdown on Saturday. Easter Monday -- also known in Italy as La Pasquetta, or “Little Easter” -- marked the final day of the lockdown, which the authorities hope will help to reduce a third wave of the virus.
Standing beneath Pietro Perugino’s painting of the Resurrection, Pope Francis recalled the angel’s next words to the women: “I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.”
He commented: “This expression ‘He has risen’ goes beyond human capacity. Even the women who had gone to the tomb and had found it open and empty could not confirm ‘He has risen,’ but they could only say that the tomb was empty.”
“‘He has risen’ is a message… Only an angel could say that Jesus had risen, only an angel with the authority to be the bearer of a heavenly message, with the power given by God to say it, just as an angel -- only an angel -- had been able to say to Mary: ‘You will conceive a son, [….] and he will be called the Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1:31-32).”
The pope pointed out that in St. Matthew’s account there was a “great earthquake” as the angel rolled back the stone at the entrance to Jesus’ tomb and sat upon it.
“That large stone, that was supposed to be the seal of the victory of evil and death, was put underfoot, it becomes the footstool of the angel of the Lord. All of the plans and defenses of Jesus’ enemies and persecutors were in vain. All the seals had crumbled,” he said.
“The image of the angel sitting on the stone before the tomb is the concrete manifestation, the visible manifestation of God’s victory over evil, the manifestation of Christ’s victory over the prince of this world, the manifestation of the victory of light over darkness.”
“Jesus’ tomb was not opened by a physical phenomenon, but by the Lord’s intervention.”
Francis contrasted the fear-filled reaction of the guards with that of the women at the tomb.
He said: “To find Christ means to discover peace in our hearts. The same women of the Gospel, after initially being shaken -- that is understandable -- experience great joy in discovering the Master alive.”
Quoting a Communion antiphon, he continued: “In this Easter season, my wish is that everyone might have the same spiritual experience, welcoming in our hearts, in our homes, and in our families the joyful proclamation of Easter: ‘Christ, having risen from the dead, dies now no more; death will no longer have dominion over him.’”
“The Easter proclamation is this: Christ is alive, Christ accompanies my life, Christ is beside me. Christ knocks at the door of my heart so you can let him in, Christ is alive. In these days of Easter, it would be good for us to repeat this: the Lord is alive.”
The pope added that it was the Resurrection that inspired Catholics to pray the Regina Coeli prayer throughout the 50 days of Easter.
“The angel Gabriel had greeted [Mary] thus the first time: ‘Rejoice, full of grace!’ Now Mary’s joy is complete: Jesus lives, Love has conquered. May this be our joy as well,” he said.
Speaking immediately after he had recited the Regina Coeli, the pope greeted those watching via television and live stream.
“I am thinking in particular of the elderly, those who are ill, connected from their own homes or rest homes. To them, I send a word of encouragement and recognition of their witness: I am near them,” he said.
Concluding his address, the pope said he hoped that everyone would live out the Easter Octave with faith.
“Take every opportune occasion to witness to the joy and peace of the Risen Lord,” he urged.
“A happy, peaceful, and holy Easter to everyone! And please do not forget to pray for me.”