VATICAN CITY (CNA) — During a recent general audience Pope Francis emphasized the certainty of Christ's presence in the world today, noting how His resurrection is an invitation to reject sin and be open to joy and hope.
"In these days we celebrate with joy the great mystery of the resurrection of Christ," he said to crowds packed into St. Peter's Square.
"With the resurrection, all has been made new and fresh; hope has been poured out upon our world."
During his remarks, the pope commented on the Gospel reading from Luke, chapter 24, where the angel appears to the women at Jesus' tomb and says to them: "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"
"It's not easy to accept the presence of the resurrected in the midst of us," Pope Francis reflected. "The question that the angel directed to the women that Easter morning, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?' we must also ask ourselves."
Pope Francis outlined the relevance of the angel's words for today, explaining that we seek the living among the dead "every time we enclose ourselves in selfishness or complacency."
"When we are seduced by power and the things of this world, forgetting God and neighbor, when we put our hope in worldly vanities, in money or in success," he said. "Each time we lose hope or do not have the strength to pray, each time that we feel alone or abandoned by friends, and even God, each time we feel like prisoners of our sins."
The pontiff said that the angel's warning "helps us to go outside our sadnesses and to open ourselves to joy and to hope," which remove "the stones from the grave and push us to announce the Good News to others."
Pope Francis also noted how the Gospel account shows three examples of a "life-changing encounter with the Risen Lord," - Thomas, Mary Magdalene and the travelers on the road to Emmaus - which all invite us to the same experience.
"Like Thomas, we need to grasp the reality of Christ's rising to new life," he said. "Like Mary Magdalene, we need to hear Jesus' voice calling our name. And like the travelers on the road to Emmaus, we need to find renewed joy and hope by recognizing that the Lord is ever at our side."
Pope Francis observed that although these disciples "sought the living among the dead," Jesus "led them, by different paths, to faith in Him and the power of His resurrection."
"He challenges each of us to seek Him, the Living One, and to leave behind everything that holds us back from encountering Him and sharing in the rebirth, the freedom and the hope which He alone can give."