On Seeking the Living Among the Dead

"This questions makes us overcome the temptation to look back, to what was yesterday, and pushes us forward towards the future"

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 1038 hits

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's discourse at the General Audience in St. Peter's Square this morning.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

This week is the week of joy: we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. It is a true, profound joy, based on the certainty that the Risen Christ dies no more, but is alive and working in the Church and in the world. This certainty has dwelt in the heart of believers since that Easter morning, when the women went to Jesus’ sepulcher and the Angels said to them: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5). “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” These words are as a milestone in history, but also an “obstacle stone” if we do not open ourselves to the Good News, if we think that a dead Jesus bothers us less than a living Jesus! Instead, how many times in our daily journey do we need to hear said: “Why are you seeking the living among the dead?” How many times do we seek life among dead things, among things that cannot give life, among things that today exist and tomorrow are no longer, things that pass … “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

We are in need of this when we shut ourselves in some form of egoism or self-complacency; when we allow ourselves to be seduced by earthly powers and by the things of this world, forgetting God and our neighbor; when we put our hopes in worldly vanity, in money, in success. Then the Word of God says to us: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Why are you looking there? That thing cannot give you life! Yes, perhaps it will give you the joy of a minute, a day, a week, a month … and then? “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” This phrase must enter our heart and we must repeat it. Can we repeat it together three times? Can we make the effort? All: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” [he repeated with the crowd]. Today, when we go home, we will say it from our heart, in silence, and we will ask ourselves this question: why do I in life seek the living among the dead? It will do us good.

It is not easy to be open to Jesus. To accept the life of the Risen One and his presence in our midst is not something to be taken for granted. The Gospel makes us see different reactions: that of the Apostle Thomas, of Mary of Magdala and of the two disciples of Emmaus: it will do us good to compare ourselves with them. Thomas puts a condition to his faith, he asks to touch the evidence, the wounds. Mary Magdalen weeps, she sees him but does not recognize him, she realizes it is Jesus only when he calls her by name. The disciples of Emmaus depressed and with feelings of defeat, encounter Jesus and allow themselves to be accompanied by that mysterious wayfarer. Each one on different paths! They were seeking the living among the dead, and it was the Lord himself who corrected their route. And what do I do? What route do I follow to encounter the living Christ? He will always be close to us to correct our route if we have made a mistake.

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 25:5). This questions makes us overcome the temptation to look back, to what was yesterday, and pushes us forward towards the future. Jesus is not in the sepulcher, he is the Risen One! He is the Living One, the One who always renews his Body which is the Church and makes it walk, drawing it to himself. “Yesterday” is the tomb of Jesus and the tomb of the Church, the sepulcher of truth and justice; “today” is the everlasting resurrection towards which the Holy Spirit drives us, asking of us full liberty.

Today this question is also addressed to us. You, why do you seek the living among the dead, you who shut yourself in after a failure and you who no longer have the strength to pray? Why do you seek the living among the dead, you who feel alone, abandoned by friends and perhaps also by God? Why do you seek the living among the dead, you who have lost hope and you who feel imprisoned by your sins? Why do you seek the living among the dead, you who aspire to beauty, to spiritual perfection, to justice, to peace?

We are in need of hearing this repeated and of reminding one another of the Angel’s admonition! This admonition, “Why do you seek the living among the dead,” helps us to come out of our spaces of sadness and opens us to the horizons of joy and of hope. That hope that removes the stones of the sepulchers and encourages us to proclaim the Good News, capable of generating new life for others. Let us repeat this phrase of the Angel to have it in our heart and in our memory and then each one should answer in silence. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Let’s repeat it! [he repeats it with the crowd]. Look brothers and sisters, He is alive, he is with us! We go to so many sepulchers that today promise something, beauty, and then do not give anything! He is alive! Let us not seek the living among the dead! Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]