Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — With Easter flowers and blossoming trees still decorating St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI held his weekly general audience and encouraged Catholics to let the risen Lord into their hearts and to share his peace with the world.
As he did with the disciples after Easter, “even today the risen Lord can enter into our homes and hearts even if, sometimes, the doors are closed,” the pope said April 11.
“He alone can roll back the burial stone that man often puts over his feelings, relationships and behavior; stones that sanction death, division, hatred, anger, jealousy, mistrust, indifference,” Pope Benedict said.
Despite dark skies and a forecast of heavy rain, the audience was held outdoors because about 25,000 people had requested free tickets to the audience.
The rain held off, but as the pope was finishing his popemobile ride through the crowd, the wind began to blow, causing the bishops and cardinals present to put their hands to their heads in order to keep their zucchettos in place. A few plants and guard rails blew over, and the Vatican aides who announced the groups present were challenged to keep hold of their papers.
Focusing his audience talk on the disciples’ encounters with the risen Jesus, Pope Benedict looked particularly at the story of Jesus meeting the disciples on the road to Emmaus as they were leaving Jerusalem saddened and dejected after his death.
As Jesus walks with them and explains the Scriptures to them, the pope said, the “meaning of everything — the law, the Scriptures, the Psalms — unexpectedly opens and becomes clear before their eyes.”
But they don’t recognize Jesus until he blesses and breaks the bread for them.
“This episode indicates the two privileged places where we can encounter the risen Lord, who transforms our lives: in listening to the word in communion with Christ and in the breaking of the bread — two places profoundly united because word and Eucharist belong so intimately to each other that one cannot be understood without the other. The word of God becomes sacramental flesh in the Eucharistic event,” he said.
Pope Benedict told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square that the Easter period is a time to rediscover the joy of the faith and to undertake a journey similar to that of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, allowing Jesus to open their eyes to the meaning of Scripture and to recognize his real presence in the Eucharist.
Meeting the disciples after Easter, Jesus repeatedly says to them, “Peace be with you.” Although it was a common greeting, the pope said, it took on new meaning when the risen Lord said it because the peace he gives is the peace of salvation.
“It is not a greeting, but a gift,” the pope said. And it is a gift Jesus’ disciples of all time are called to share with the world.
The pope had flown to the Vatican by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo, the papal villa south of Rome. He returned to Castel Gandolfo after the audience and was scheduled to stay there until April 13.