Sunday, April 15, 2018

Regina Coeli for III Sunday of Easter

At noon today (6:00am EDT), the III Sunday of Easter, the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Regina Coeli with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Regina Coeli

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

At the centre of this third Sunday of Easter is the experience of the risen Christ experienced by his disciples, all together.  This is especially emphasized in the gospel which once again places us in the Upper Room, where Jesus appeared to the Apostles, addressing them with the greeting: Peace be with you (Lk 24:36).  This is the greeting offered by the risen Christ, who gives us peace: Peace be with you!  Christ's peace is both interior and existing as part of the relationships between people.  The encounter described in Luke's gospel insists on the reality of the resurrection.  Jesus is not a ghost.  In fact, this is not an apparition of Jesus soul, but of his real presence, with his risen body.

Jesus realized that the apostles were disturbed when they saw him, that they were baffled because the reality of the resurrection was inconceivable to them.  They thought that they were seeing a ghost; but the risen Jesus is not a ghost, he is a man, with a body and a soul.  For this reason, in order to convince them, he said to them: Look at my hands and my feet - he showed them his wounds - it is truly I!  Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have (Lk 24:39).  Even this did not seem to be enough to overcome the disciples' disbelief.  The gospel also says something interesting: they had so much joy within that they could not believe it: No, this cannot be!  It cannot be true!  This much joy is not possible!  In order to convince them, Jesus said to them: Do you have anything to eat? (Lk 24:41).  They offered him some grilled fish; Jesus took it and ate it in front of them, in order to convince them.

Jesus' insistence on the reality of the resurrection sheds light on the Christian perception of the body: the body is not an obstacle or a prison for the soul.  The body is created by God and man is not complete if there is no union between body and soul.  Jesus, who overcame death and rose in body and soul, helps us to understand that we should have positive ideas about our own bodies.  This ican become an occasion or an instrument for sin, but sin is not provoked by the body, but rather by our moral weakness.  The body is a wonderful gift from God, intended, in union with the soul, to express the fullness of His image and likeness.  Therefore, we are called to have great respect for and to take care of our own bodies and those of others.

Every offence or wound or violence against the body of our neighbour is an outrage to God our creator!  My thoughts are drawn especially to children, women and the elderly who are malnourished in body.  In the flesh of these persons, we find the body of Christ.  The wounded Christ, mocked, slandered, humiliated, whipped, crucified ... Jesus taught us love: a love that, in his resurrection, has proven to be more powerful than sin and death, and seeks to redeem all those who experience the slavery of our times in their own bodies.

In a world where there is too much arrogance against the weak and where materialism suffocates the spirit, today's gospel calls us to be people who are capable of looking deeply, filled with amazement and great joy in the presence of the risen Lord.  He calls us to be people who can gather and value the novelty of life that He sows in history, in order to direct our lives toward new heavens and a new earth.  May the Virgin Mary sustain us on this journey; let us entrust ourselves to her maternal intercession.

Following the recitation of the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, in Vohipeno (Madagascar), the martyr Luciano Botovasoa, the father of a family and a faithful witness of Christ to the point of giving his life, is being proclaimed Blessed.  Arrested and killed for having demonstrated his willingness to remain faithful to the Lord and to the Church, for many of us, he represents an example of charity and commitment to faith.

I am profoundly disturbed by the current world situation in which, despite the instruments available to the international community, it is difficult to agree on common action in favour of peace in Syria and in other regions of the world.  While I am praying incessantly for peace, and as I invite all people of good will to continue doing the same, I appeal once again to all political leaders, that justice and peace may prevail.

I am pained by the news that three men who were kidnapped at the end of March at the border between Ecuador and Colombia have been killed.  I am praying for them and for their families, and I am close to the beloved Ecuadorian people, encouraging them to go on, united and peacefully, with the Lord's help, and that of his Blessed Mother.

I entrust to your prayers those people, like Vincent Lambert in France, little Alfie Evans in England, and others in other countries who are living sometimes for prolonged periods of time in a state of serious illness, medically assisted for the most basic of needs.  Theirs are delicate, very painful and complex situations.  Let us pray that every sick person may always be respected in full dignity and adequately cared for in their various conditions, wit the consent of family members, doctors and other health care workers, with great respect for life.

I affectionately greet all of you, pilgrims from Italy and from many other parts of the world: families, parish groups, schools, associations.  In particular, I greet the faithful from California, as well as those from Arluno, Pontelongo, Scandicci, Genova-Pegli and Vibo Valentia; the children from the Children of Jesus school in Modena and the Friends of Paul VI group in Pescara.

I wish you all a good Sunday.  And please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!

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