VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are called to bring hope, happiness and life to a world marked by despair, sadness and death, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Believing in Christ and his resurrection means bringing new life to others and “dedicating oneself without reserve to the most urgent and just causes” with God’s grace and his logic of love, the Pope said April 27 at his weekly general audience.
More than 20,000 people packed into St. Peter’s Square, many of them young Italian students who were still off from school for the Easter holidays. Banners commemorating Pope John Paul II and his pontificate were hung between the columns surrounding the square in the run-up to the Polish Pope’s May 1 beatification.
For his catechesis, Pope Benedict looked at the meaning of Easter and Christ’s resurrection for the Christian community.
“Faith in the risen Christ transforms existence, working in us a continuous resurrection” in which Christians are called to renew themselves every day by putting the values Christ taught into action, he said.
Easter can be lived every day “by putting to death the things of this earth and setting our hearts on the things that are on high,” he said, echoing a passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians.
By seeking what is above and not what is on earth, the apostle was not urging people to scorn or alienate themselves from the real world, the Pope said.
According to St. Paul, avoiding “what is on earth” means letting go of earthly vices, such as “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and the greed that is idolatry,” the Pope said, quoting the Letter to the Colossians.
It means “letting die in us the insatiable desire for material things and egoism, which is the root of all sin,” the Pope said.
Setting one’s heart on the things of heaven means searching for and living with “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another,” the Pope said, again citing St. Paul.
But above all, people must fill their hearts with love so as to become new men and women, he said.
Living the virtues not only transforms one’s own life, he said — it is the necessary prerequisite for changing the world in such a way that it promotes full human and social development, which is based on “the logic of solidarity, goodness and respect for the dignity of all.”
Love and charity are what bring the “spiritual freedom which can break down any wall,” break the bonds of sin, and usher in a new world based on life, justice and reconciliation, he said.
“We cannot keep for ourselves the life and joy” that Christ gave people with his death and resurrection, the Pope said; his gift must be shared with others.
“This is our mission: to awaken hope in place of despair, joy in place of sadness, and life in place of death,” the Pope said.
At the end of the general audience, the Pope was flown by helicopter back to the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. The Pope was staying at the papal villa from April 24 to April 30.