Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "We encounter Jesus by witnessing him". He himself "comes to meet us every time we announce him". And when one encounters Jesus, no obstacle, no human calculation "can prevent us from proclaiming him". If, on the other hand, we consider the Lord as a "good" in our possession, and if "we keep his joy for ourselves, perhaps it is because we have not yet truly encountered him". Pope Francis has thus repeated once again to the Church and to the world the reasons why the proclamation of the Gospel can only emanate gratuitously and irrepressibly from the encounter with Jesus and, precisely for this reason, is incomparable to any "propaganda or proselytism". The Bishop of Rome once again reproposed the fundamental features of the Christian adventure in the world in the words he spoke today, Easter Monday, April 10, before the multitude of pilgrims who flocked to St. Peter's Square for the recitation of the Regina Caeli.
In his brief speech, before reciting the Marian prayer, the Pontiff presented the encounter of women with the Risen One on Easter morning as a paradigmatic experience, as recounted in the passage from the Gospel of Matthew read in the liturgy of the day. The Gospel - remarked the Successor of Peter - reminds us that it was them, the women disciples, who were the first to see him and encounter the Risen Christ. "Like all the disciples, Pope Francis noted, they too were suffering because of the way the story of Jesus seemed to have ended; but, unlike the others, they do not stay at home paralyzed by sadness and fear: in the early morning, at sunrise, they go to honour the body of Jesus, bringing aromatic ointments". Women "are not discouraged, they overcome their fears and their anguish". When they see the empty tomb, "with fear and great joy", they run "to tell his disciples". And just as they are going to give this news, "Jesus comes towards them". The Pontiff drew everyone's attention to this crucial detail: "Jesus" the Pope remarked "meets them while they are going to announce him. This is beautiful: Jesus meets them while they are going to announce him. When we proclaim the Lord, the Lord comes to us". At times – continued the Bishop of Rome – "we think that the way to be close to God is that of keeping him close to us; because then, if we reveal ourselves and start to talk about it, then judgements, criticisms come, perhaps we do not know how to respond to certain questions or provocations, and so it is better not to talk about it, and to close up: no Instead, the Lord comes while we proclaim him. You always find the Lord on the path of proclamation. Proclaim the Lord and you will encounter him". This - Pope Francis insisted - "is what the women teach us: we encounter Jesus by witnessing him".
To suggest an analogy between what happened to women after meeting Jesus on Easter morning and widely shared human experiences, the Pontiff mentioned what happens when we receive good news, such as the birth of a child. "So, one of the first things we do is to share this happy announcement with friends: You know, I have had a baby… He is beautiful". And, by telling it, we also repeat it to ourselves and somehow make it come alive again for us. "If this happens for good news", continued the Bishop of Rome, "it happens infinitely more for Jesus, who is not only good news, nor even the best news of life, no, but he is life itself, he is “the resurrection and the life”. Thus, every time we proclaim Jesus, "the Lord comes towards us. He comes with respect and love, as the most beautiful gift to share, Jesus dwells in us every time we proclaim him".
The episode of the women at the Sepulchre, recounted in the Gospel of the day - the Pontiff continued in an important passage of his brief catechesis - attests in a paradigmatic way to the source of all authentic testimony, and the features that characterize it and distinguish it from all human propaganda. An entire city - the Pope pointed out - "had seen Jesus on the cross". But the women, who saw him resurrected, went without delay "to the city to announce that he is alive". And so they testify that "when one encounters Jesus, no obstacle can prevent us from proclaiming him. If instead we keep his joy for ourselves, perhaps it is because we have not yet truly encountered him".
Concluding his speech, as he usually does, Pope Francis invited everyone to look at their own personal experience in the light of the Gospel story just explained: "Before the women's experience", the Pontiff suggested, "we ask ourselves: tell me, when was the last time you bore witness to Jesus? When was the last time I bore witness to Jesus? Today, what shall I do so that the people I meet receive the joy of his proclamation? And again: can someone say: this person is serene, happy, good, because he has met Jesus? Can this be said of every one of us? Let us ask Our Lady to help us be joyful proclaimers of the Gospel". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 10/4/2023)