Pope Francis on Wednesday stressed the importance of recognizing the presence of the Risen Christ, like the women who were the first witnesses of his resurrection.

“Since the first steps of the Church, faith in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus has been very firm and clear,” he observed.

He then considered how this faith has been passed on through the narrative-testimony of the Gospels.

“First, we notice that the first witnesses of this event were women,” the Pontiff said. “[…] Women are driven by love and know how to welcome this announcement with faith: they believe, and immediately they transmit it, they do not keep it to themselves. The joy of knowing that Jesus is alive, the hope that fills our hearts, cannot be contained.”

Francis also considered how the Gospels relate that women were the first witnesses, even though Jewish law of the time would not have recognized women’s testimony.

“Here we can grasp an element in favor of the historicity of the resurrection,” he said. “If it were a made-up event, in the context of that time it would not have been tied to the women’s testimony. Instead the evangelists simply narrate what happened: women are the first witnesses. This says that God does not choose according to human criteria: the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people; the first witnesses of the resurrection were women.”

The Pope said that this reality is “beautiful.”

“This is to some degree the mission of women: of mothers, of women,” he said. “To give witness to their children, their grandchildren, that Jesus is alive, he is the Living One, he is risen. Mothers and women, go forward with this testimony!”

The Pontiff said that this leads to a reflection “on how women in the Church and in the journey of faith, have had and now have a particular role in opening the doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because the gaze of faith always needs the simple and profound gaze of love.”

• Full story at EWTN.com.
• Full text at Zenit.