Pope Francis: "A closed heart cannot understand what Christianity is"
The wind and cold air couldn't extinguish the enthusiasm and the affection in St. Peter's Square. Pope Francis again remained faithful to his customs of letting the little ones climb aboard the popemobile, to greet children and elders.
Before thousands of people in his first catechesis after Holy Week, he spoke about the foundation of Christian faith: the Resurrection of Christ.
POPE FRANCIS "Christianity is born here. It is not an ideology, it is not a philosophical system. Faith is born from the Resurrection."
During the days following Easter, the liturgy recalls the beginnings of the Church. Among them is the conversion of a very special person: St. Paul.
POPE FRANCIS "He was not an altar boy, eh? He was a persecutor of the Church. The persecutor becomes an apostle. Why? 'For I have seen Jesus alive, I have seen the risen Jesus' and this is the foundation of Paul's faith, of the faith of the other apostles, the faith of the Church, of our faith."
To believe in the resurrection, the pope concluded, it's necessary for Christians to be open to what is difficult to explain only with reason. It takes a heart that is able to be surprised by God.
POPE FRANCIS "A closed heart, a rational heart, is incapable of astonishment and cannot understand what Christianity is, because Christianity is grace and grace has to be perceived."
This is the way that Pope Francis ended the General Audience. The square was still decorated with 35,000 flowers that were brought from Holland for Easter. It is a tradition that has been going on for three decades.
Pope explains meaning of Resurrection at General Audience
At today's General Audience, Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis on hope, looking now to the Risen Jesus as a symbol of Christianity.
He explained that Jesus' "resurrection is the event that grounds our faith”, proving that Christ himself is not "simply another great religious figure.” Rather, it is he who "dwells in our midst”, and "is the reason for our Easter joy.”
The Holy Father also said that "encountering Christ is always a surprise; it's a grace given to those whose hearts are open”, which opens one to a future of light instead of darkness.
EXCERPTS FROM THE POPE'S HOMILY IN ENGLISH
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
In these joyful days of Easter, our continuing catechesis on Christian hope looks to the Risen Jesus. Saint Paul tells the Corinthians that Jesus himself is our hope. His resurrection is the event that grounds our faith; without our confident belief in its historical reality, the Christian faith would be a mere human philosophy, and Jesus himself simply another great religious figure.
Our belief is based on the testimony of those who encountered the Risen Christ, from Saint Peter and the group of the Twelve to Saint Paul, who was converted by his dramatic meeting with the Lord on the road to Damascus. Encountering Christ in faith is always a surprise; it is a grace given to those whose hearts are open. It overturns our comfortable existence and opens us to an unexpected future, sowing life and light in place of death and sorrow. This is the reason for our Easter joy: in the risen Jesus, who dwells in our midst, we encounter the power of God’s love, which triumphs over death and brings ever new life and undying hope.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Sweden, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Canada and the United States of America. I offer a particular greeting to the newly-ordained deacons from the Pontifical Irish College, together with families and friends. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all.
With very kind permission from Rome Reports TV News Agency