The Pope made these comments during the three-hour Easter Vigil Mass held Saturday night in St. Peter's Basilica, which was filled to capacity.
The vigil began at 10 p.m. in the atrium of the basilica, with the blessing of the fire and the lighting of the paschal candle. Light slowly began to fill the basilica as each of the 7,000 people on hand lit their candles from the flame of the paschal candle.
During the vigil, the Holy Father administered the sacraments of baptism and confirmation to seven catechumens from Albania, Belarus, Peru, Japan, Colombia and Cameroon.
Borrowing the language of the theory of evolution, Benedict XVI said that the resurrection of Christ "is the greatest 'mutation,' absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development."
It is "a leap into a completely new order which does concern us, and concerns the whole of history," the Pope said.
The Successor of Peter added that Christ's "death was an act of love. At the Last Supper he anticipated death and transformed it into self-giving."
"His existential communion with God was concretely an existential communion with God's love, and this love is the real power against death, it is stronger than death," the Holy Father said.
Benedict XVI continued: "The Resurrection was like an explosion of light, an explosion of love which dissolved the hitherto indissoluble compenetration of 'dying and becoming.'
"It ushered in a new dimension of being, a new dimension of life in which, in a transformed way, matter too was integrated and through which a new world emerges."
For the Pope, "It is clear that this event is not just some miracle from the past, the occurrence of which could be ultimately a matter of indifference to us."
In fact, it "is a qualitative leap in the history of 'evolution' and of life in general toward a new future life, toward a new world which, starting from Christ, already continuously permeates this world of ours, transforms it and draws it to itself," the Holy Father added.
"But how does this happen?" the Pontiff asked. "How can this event effectively reach me and draw my life upward toward itself? The answer, perhaps surprising at first but totally real, is: This event comes to me through faith and baptism."
Benedict XVI, addressing in particular the seven new members of the Church present in the basilica, noted that baptism is not "an event in the past." Rather, it is "a qualitative leap in world history comes to me, seizing hold of me in order to draw me on," he said.
"Baptism is something quite different from an act of ecclesial socialization, from a slightly old-fashioned and complicated rite for receiving people into the Church," the Pope said. "It is also more than a simple washing, more than a kind of purification and beautification of the soul.
"It is truly death and resurrection, rebirth, transformation to a new life."
The Holy Father continued: "The great explosion of the Resurrection has seized us in baptism so as to draw us on. Thus we are associated with a new dimension of life into which, amid the tribulations of our day, we are already in some way introduced."
The meaning of being baptized and of being a Christian, said Benedict XVI, is "to live one's own life as a continual entry into this open space."