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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today I return again to the affirmation “I believe in the resurrection of the body.” It is not a simple truth and anything but obvious because, immersed in this world, it is not easy to understand the future reality. However, the Gospel enlightens us: Our resurrection is closely linked to the Resurrection of Jesus; the fact that He is resurrected is the proof that the resurrection of the dead exists. I would now like to present some aspects regarding the relation between the Resurrection of Christ and our resurrection. (…)
First of all, Sacred Scripture itself contains a path to full faith in the resurrection of the dead. It is expressed as faith in God Creator of the whole man -- soul and body -- and as faith in God Liberator, the God faithful to the covenant with his people. In a vision, the prophet Ezekiel looks at the sepulchers of the deported that are reopened and the dry bones that come back to life thanks to the infusion of a vivifying spirit. This vision expresses the hope in the future “resurrection of Israel,” that is, in the rebirth of the defeated and humiliated people (cf. Ezekiel 37:1-14).
In the New Testament, Jesus brings this revelation to fulfillment, and links faith in the resurrection to his very person. He says: “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). In fact, it will be the Lord Jesus who on the last day will resurrect those who believed in Him. Jesus came among us, he became man like us in everything, except sin; in this way he has taken us with Him on his journey of return to the Father. He, the incarnate Word, who died for us and rose, gives his disciples the Holy Spirit as earnest of full communion in his glorious Kingdom, which we await vigilantly. This waiting is the source and reason of our hope: a hope that is cultivated and guarded, (…) becomes light to illumine our personal and communal history, (…). Let us remember it always: we are disciples of Him who came, who comes every day and who will come at the end. If we succeed in having this reality more present, we will be less exhausted by the daily routine, less prisoners of the ephemeral and more willing to walk with a merciful heart on the path of salvation.
Another aspect: what does it mean to resurrect? Resurrection (…) will take place on the last day, at the end of the world, the work of the omnipotence of God, who will restore life to our body reuniting it to our soul, in virtue of the Resurrection of Jesus. (…) This transformation, (…) this transfiguration of our body is prepared in this life by our relation with Jesus in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. We, who in this life are nourished with his Body and his Blood will resurrect as He did, with Him and through Him. As Jesus rose with his own body, but he did not return to an earthly life, so we will rise with our bodies which will be transfigured in glorious bodies. (…)
Already in this life we have in us a participation in the Resurrection of Christ. If it is true that Jesus will resurrect us at the end of times, it is also true that, in a certain aspect, we are already resurrected with Him. (…) In fact, through Baptism, we are inserted in the Death and Resurrection of Christ and we participate in the new life (…). Therefore, while awaiting the last day, we have in ourselves a seed of resurrection, as anticipation of the full resurrection which we will receive in inheritance. Because of this, the body of each one of us is a resonance of eternity, hence it is always [to be] respected; and above all the life of those who suffer is respected and loved, so that they feel the closeness of the Kingdom of God, of that condition of eternal life towards which we are walking. (…)
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I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet the participants in the Seminar on Ethics and Values organized by the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace.; the Daughters of Charity; the faithful of Polignano a Mare; the Forces of Order, in particular the Command of the Customs Service of the Abruzzo Region, the Light Infantrymen of Cosenza and the Grenadiers of Spoleto, accompanied by the Archbishop, Monsignor Boccardo. Moreover, I greet the students, especially those of the of the De Sanctis-Galilei High School of Manduria and the Institutes of San Nicola La Strada and “Sacred Heart” of Avezzano; the delegation of the Opera Romana leaving for Iraq; the parish groups and the numerous Associations, particularly “Spina-Bifida and Hydrocephalus” and the “Friends of Raoul Follereau,” committed in aid to the suffering. In these first days of Advent we turn to the Immaculate Virgin with confident prayer: She is the model of our journey to encounter Christ who comes among us.
Finally, an affectionate thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Yesterday we celebrated the memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Patron of the Missions. This holy priest reminds us of the commitment we each have to proclaim the Gospel. Dear young people, be courageous witnesses of your faith; dear sick, offer your daily cross for the conversion of the estranged to the light of the Gospel; and you, dear newlyweds, be heralds of the love of Christ beginning with your family.
[The synthesis and greeting for English-speaking pilgrims:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters: we return to our reflection on "the resurrection of the body", as we look at three aspects of the relationship between Christ’s resurrection and our own. First, the Gospel reveals to us that our faith in the resurrection is bound to the person of Jesus Christ, who himself said "I am the resurrection and the life". Like us in all things but sin, Christ gathers us to himself so that we may accompany him in his journey back to the Father. The Risen Christ gives his disciples the Holy Spirit as a pledge of communion with God which has its fullness in eternity. The anticipation of eternal life is the source and reason for our hope. If cultivated and protected, it illuminates our lives as persons and communities. Second, Christ rose in his glorified body. Through Christ, our bodies will also be glorified and reunited with our souls at the resurrection. Therefore, our experience of the Risen Christ in the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, prepares us for the reunion of our bodies and souls in heaven. Third, while Jesus will resurrect us at the end of time, even now he wishes us to share in his resurrection. Through Baptism, we are inserted into his death and resurrection and begin to experience new life. The seed of eternity is planted within us. Hence, the image of eternity is imprinted on us and calls us to respect the lives of all people, especially those who suffer. In this way, we can experience the closeness of the Reign of God, towards which we all journey together.
[The Holy Father offered the following greeting in Italian, translated by a speaker:]
I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Denmark, Australia and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
[Pope Francis concluded with the following appeal:]
I now wish to invite all to pray for the nuns of the Greek-Orthodox Convent of Saint Tecla at Ma’lula in Syria, who two days ago were taken away by armed men. Let us pray for these Sisters and for all kidnapped persons because of the ongoing conflict. Let us continue to pray and to work together for peace.
[Translation by ZENIT]