URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE
OF HIS HOLINESS POPE
JOHN PAUL II
EASTER SUNDAY 1998
1. "You know what took place regarding Jesus of Nazareth. . .
are witnesses to all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in
Jerusalem" (cf. Acts 10:37-38).
These are the words which
the Apostle Peter,
a witness to the Resurrection of Christ,
the centurion Cornelius and his household.
Today the witnesses speak:
the eye-witnesses present at the events of
those who were afraid before the Sanhedrin,
those who on
the third day found the tomb empty.
Witnesses to the Resurrection were,
the women of Jerusalem and Mary of Magdala;
and later the
Apostles, informed by the women:
first Peter and John, then all the rest.
Another witness was Saul of Tarsus,
converted at the gates of Damascus,
Christ permitted to experience
the power of his resurrection,
might become the chosen vessel
of the missionary thrust of the early Church.
2. Yes, today the witnesses speak out:
not only the first ones, the
but also those who, from them, have learned the Easter
and have borne testimony to Christ crucified and risen
generation to generation.
Some have been witnesses even to the shedding of
and, thanks to them, the Church has continued on her way,
amid harsh persecutions and obstinate rejection.
On the strength of this unending testimony the Church has grown,
now spread throughout the world.
Today is the feast of all witnesses;
those of our own century, who have proclaimed Christ
in the midst of the "great
tribulation" (Rev 7:14),
confessing his death and resurrection
in the concentration camps and the gulags,
under the threat of bombs
amid the terror unleashed by the blind hatred
tragically engulfed individuals and whole nations.
Today they come from the
and sing the glory of Christ:
in him, rising from the
shadows of death,
life has been made manifest.
3. Today, we too are witnesses to the Risen Christ
and we repeat his
proclamation of peace to all humanity
on its way to the Third Millennium.
bear witness to his death and resurrection,
especially to the men and women
of our own time,
caught up in fratricidal strife and slaughter
reopen the wounds of ethnic rivalries,
and, in different parts of every
especially in Africa and in Europe,
are now sowing in the
earth the seed of death
and new conflicts for a sad tomorrow.
This proclamation of peace is for all those
who are undergoing a calvary
seemingly without end,
thwarted in their aspiration
for respect for
their dignity and human rights,
for justice, for employment, for fairer
May this proclamation be an inspiration to the leaders of the nations
to every person of good will,
especially in the Middle East and
particularly in Jerusalem,
where peace is put at risk by dangerous political
May it give fresh courage to those who have believed and still
in dialogue as the way to settle national and international
May it fill everyone's heart with the boldness of the hope
springs from the truth being recognized and respected,
so that new and
promising prospects of solidarity
may open up in the world.
4. Christ, who died and rose for us,
you are the foundation of our hope!
wish to make our own the testimony of Peter
and that of countless other
brothers and sisters down the centuries,
in order to proclaim it again at
the threshold of the new Millennium.
It is true: "The stone which the
has become the head of the corner" (Ps
On this foundation is built the Church of the Living God,
Church of the Risen Christ.
In today's liturgy this Church sings
both old and ever new.
With words filled with ardor
she proclaims the
victory of life over death:
"Mors et Vita duello conflixere mirando
. . ."
"Death and life joined in a wondrous duel.
of life was dead; but now, alive, he triumphs".
And as though it had
happened only yesterday,
the Church turns to Mary of Magdala,
the first to meet the Risen Lord:
"Dic nobis, Maria, quid vidisti
"Tell us, Mary, what did you see on the way?
tomb of the living Christ, the glory of the Risen Christ,
and his witnesses
the angels, the shroud and his garments.
Christ, my hope, is risen;
goes before you into Galilee".
5. Today, you, the Risen One, wish to meet us
in every corner of the
just as yesterday you met the Apostles in Galilee.
By virtue of
this encounter we too can repeat:
"Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis
tu nobis, victor Rex, miserere".
"Yes, we are certain:
Christ is truly risen.
Oh victorious King, bring us your salvation".