Our ability to recognize the Risen Lord through His Word and in the Eucharist was the focus of Pope Benedict XVI’s Regina Caeli reflections this third Sunday of Easter. Speaking in French he said in the same way the Risen Jesus appeared among the apostles, still today “the Savior assures us of his real presence among us through the Word and the Eucharist” and just as “He gave peace “to the disciples, “He is still gifting us His peace and opens up life to happiness and invites us to become His witnesses to the ends of the earth, in our world marked by evil and suffering, pain and fear”.
St Peter’s Square, below the Pope’s study window was packed, mainly with young children from parishes across the diocese of Rome, who are preparing for their First Communion. They had gathered beneath his balcony early Sunday morning, animating the build up to the midday appointment with the Holy Father with song, adding splashes of color to square with bunches of balloons. And they were not disappointed. Speaking to them directly before the recitation of the Regina Caeli, which replaces the Angelus during the period between Easter and Pentecost, Pope Benedict urged “parish priests, parents and catechists to prepare this feast of faith, with great fervor, but with sobriety.” This day is to be memorable as the moment when … you too understand the importance of a personal encounter with Jesus”.
Referring to the Sunday Gospel, Luke chapter 24, Pope Benedict said “the Saviour assures us of his real presence among us through the Word and the Eucharist. Therefore, just as the disciples of Emmaus recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread (cf. Lk 24:35), so we meet the Lord in the Eucharistic celebration”. Quoting St. Thomas Aquinas he said ” It is absolutely necessary to confess according to Catholic faith that the entire Christ is in this sacrament…. since the Godhead never set aside the assumed body”.
Finally the Pope prayed that the Mother of God help us to listen attentively to the Word of the Lord and participate worthily in the Eucharistic Sacrifice,” to become witnesses of the new humanity”.
Below a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s Regina Caeli reflections on the third Sunday of Easter:
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today, the third Sunday of Easter, in the Gospel according to Luke, we meet the risen Jesus who comes in the midst of the disciples (cf. Lk 24.36), who were incredulous and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost (cf. Lk 24, 37). Romano Guardini writes: “The Lord has changed. He does not live as before. His existence … it is not understandable. Yet it is corporal, including … his whole life experience, his lived destiny, his passion and his death. Everything is real. Albeit changed, but always tangible reality “(The Lord. Meditations on the person and the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Milan 1949, 433). Since the resurrection has not erased the marks of crucifixion, Jesus shows his hands and feet to the Apostles. And to convince them, he even asking for something to eat. So the disciples’ offered him a piece of baked fish, and he took it and ate it before them “(Luke 24.42-43). St. Gregory the Great says that “the fish grilled over a fire does not mean anything other than the passion of Jesus Mediator between God and men. In fact, he deigned to hide in the waters of the human race, agreed to be caught in the snare of our death and was as if he were set on fire for the pain suffered at the time of His Passion “(Hom. in Evang. XXIV, 5: CCL 141 , Turnhout 1999, 201).
Thanks to these signs very realistic, the disciples overcome their initial doubt and open up to the gift of faith, and this faith allows them to understand the things written on Christ “in the law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24.44 ). We read that Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and said to them:” Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer, and rise from the dead on the third day. and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins…You are witnesses of these things”(Luke 24.45-48). The Saviour assures us of his real presence among us through the Word and the Eucharist. Therefore, just as the disciples of Emmaus recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread (cf. Lk 24:35), so we meet the Lord in the Eucharistic celebration. In this regard, St. Thomas Aquinas explains that ” It is absolutely necessary to confess according to Catholic faith that the entire Christ is in this sacrament…. since the Godhead never set aside the assumed body,” (S.Th. III q. 76, a. 1).
Dear friends, the Church at Easter time, usually administers First Communion to children. I therefore urge the pastors, parents and catechists to prepare this feast of faith well, with great fervor, but also with simplicity. “This day is to be memorable as the moment when … you too understand the importance of a personal encounter with Jesus” (Post Synodal ap.exort. Sacramentum Caritatis, 19). May the Mother of God help us to listen attentively to the Word of the Lord and participate worthily in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, to become witnesses of the new humanity.
I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present for this Easter prayer to Our Lady. In today’s Gospel, the risen Lord opens the minds of the disciples to the meaning of his suffering and death, and sends them out to preach repentance. With courage and joy, may we too be authentic witnesses to Christ. God bless all of you!