Closed hearts unable to be surprised by the Resurrection, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christian faith is a grace and can be perceived only
in the hearts of those willing to be surprised by the joy of the Resurrection,
Pope Francis said.

“A closed heart, a rationalistic heart” is
incapable of understanding the Christian message which has God’s love —
manifested in Christ’s victory over death — at its center, the pope said at his
weekly general audience April 19.

“How beautiful it is to think that Christianity is
essentially this: It is not so much our search for God — a search that is, truthfully, somewhat
shaky — but rather God’s search for us,” the pope said.

The pope, bundled up in a white overcoat due to the unusually
chilly and windy weather, entered a packed St. Peter’s Square in his
popemobile. Immediately, he invited two girls and a boy, dressed in their altar server robes, to board the vehicle and ride
with him around the square.

Pope Francis also took a moment to greet an elderly woman
who, overcome with emotion, cried and stretched out her arms to embrace the
pope. He stooped over, warmly embracing the woman and gently caressing her face before making the
sign of the cross over her forehead.

Continuing his series of talks on hope, the pope reflected
on St. Paul’s First
Letter to the
Corinthians in which the apostle emphasizes the Resurrection as “the heart
of the Christian message.”

“Christianity is born from here. It is not an ideology
nor a philosophic system but a path of faith that begins from an event,
witnessed by Jesus’ first disciples,” the pope said.

Paul’s summary of those who witnessed the risen Christ, he noted, ends by describing himself as
the “least worthy of all” given his dramatic history as a one-time
adversary of the early Christians.

Paul “wasn’t a ‘choirboy.’ He was a persecutor of the church, proud of his own
convictions,” the pope said, departing from his prepared remarks. But “one day something completely
unpredictable happens: the encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to

It is the surprise of this encounter, the pope continued, that
all Christians are called to experience “even if we are sinners.”

Like the first disciples who saw the stone overturned at
Jesus’ tomb, all men and women can find “happiness, joy and life where
everyone thought there was only sadness, defeat and darkness,” the pope

God, Pope Francis said, is greater than “nothingness
and just one lit
candle is able to overcome the darkest night.”

“If we are asked the reason for our smile and our
patient sharing, we can respond that Jesus is still here, he continues to be
alive in our midst,” the pope said. “Jesus is here, in this square
with us, alive and risen.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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