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Dear brothers and sisters! Buon giorno!
On this Sunday that concludes the Octave of Easter I renew Easter greetings to everyone with the words of the risen Jesus himself: “Peace to you!” (John 20:19, 21, 26). It is not salutation nor a simple greeting: it is a gift, indeed, the precious gift that Christ offers to his disciples after having passed through death and the netherworld (“inferi”). He gives peace as he promised: “I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives it do I give it to you” (John 14:27). This peace is the fruit of the victory of God’s love over evil, it is the fruit of forgiveness. And this is exactly how it is: true peace, profound peace, comes from the experience of the mercy of God. Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, established according to the wishes of Blessed John Paul II, who died on the very eve of this celebration.
The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus appeared twice to the Apostles who had locked themselves inside the upper room: the first was on the very evening of the Resurrection, and Thomas was not there, Thomas, who said: if I do not see and do not touch I will not believe. The second time, eight days later, Thomas was present. And Jesus addressed himself precisely to him, inviting him to look at the wounds and to touch them; and Thomas exclaimed: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Then Jesus said: “Because you saw me you believed; blessed are those who have not seen and have believed!” (20:29). And who are these others who believed without seeing? Other disciples, other men and women of Jerusalem who, although they had not encountered the risen Jesus, believed on the testimony of the Apostles and the women. This is a very important consideration with respect to the faith, we might call it the beatitude of faith. Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed: this is the beatitude of faith! In every time and in every place those people are blessed who, through the Word of God, proclaimed by the Church and witnessed to by Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the love of God incarnate, Mercy incarnate. And this is true for all of us!
Together with his peace, Jesus granted his Apostles the Holy Spirit, so that they could bring the forgiveness of sins into the world, that forgiveness that only God can give and whose cost was the Blood of his Son (cf. John 20:21-23). The Church is sent by the risen Christ to transmit the remission of sins to men, and in this way to make the Kingdom of love grow, to sow peace in hearts, so that peace also be affirmed in relationships, in societies, in institutions. And the Spirit of the risen Christ drives fear out of the Apostles’ hearts and drives them out of the upper room to spread the Gospel. We too have more courage to witness to the faith in the risen Christ! We must not be afraid to be Christians and to live as Christians! We must have this courage to go proclaim Christ risen because he is our peace, he made peace with his love, with his forgiveness, with his blood, with his mercy.
Dear friends, this afternoon I will celebrate the Eucharist in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. Let us pray to the Virgin Mary that she help us, bishop and people, to walk together in faith and charity, always confident in the mercy of the Lord: He always waits for us, he loves us, he forgave us with is blood and he forgives us every time we go to him to ask forgiveness. Let us have faith in his mercy!
[Following the recitation of the “Regina Caeli” the Holy Father greeted those present. Here are some of his greetings:]
I offer a cordial greeting to the pilgrims who participated in the holy Mass celebrated by the cardinal vicar of Rome in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, the center of devotion to Divine Mercy. Dear bothers and sisters, be messengers and witnesses of God’s mercy!
I am happy to greet the numerous members of the movements and associations that are present for our time of prayer together, especially the Neocatechumenal communities of Rome, who begin today a special mission in the piazzas of the city. I invite everyone to bring the Glad Tidings to every sphere of life, “with sweetness and respect”! (1 Peter 3:16). Go into the public places and proclaim Jesus Christ, our Savior.
[In conclusion the Holy Father said:]
May the Lord bless you, and have a good lunch!
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]