Pope Francis delivered a brief message before reciting the Regina Caeli prayer on Easter Monday, April 10, 2023. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Apr 10, 2023 / 05:50 am (CNA).

Pope Francis encouraged Christians to not be held back by fear of judgment, but to share the good news of Christ’s resurrection with others.

“At times we think the way to be close to God is by keeping him close to us; because then, if we reveal ourselves and start to talk about it, judgements, criticisms come,” the pope said before the recitation of the Regina Caeli prayer on April 10.

“Perhaps,” he added, “we do not know how to respond to certain questions or provocations, and so [we think] it is better not to talk about it, to close ourselves: no, this is not good.”

“Instead, the Lord comes while we proclaim him,” he continued. “This is what the women teach us: we encounter Jesus by witnessing him. Let us put this in our hearts: Jesus is met by witnessing him.”

Pope Francis addressed a crowd of people in St. Peter’s Square from a window of the Apostolic Palace for Monday of the Angel.

Following his brief message, he recited the Regina Caeli, a Latin antiphon honoring the Virgin Mary which is prayed during the Easter Season. From Easter Sunday to Pentecost, Pope Francis will pray the Regina Caeli instead of the Angelus on Sundays.

Pope Francis delivered a brief message before reciting the Regina Caeli prayer on Easter Monday, April 10, 2023. Vatican Media
Pope Francis delivered a brief message before reciting the Regina Caeli prayer on Easter Monday, April 10, 2023. Vatican Media

In his address, the pope reflected on the account in St. Matthew’s Gospel of the women Mary and Mary Magdalene finding the empty tomb and going swiftly to tell the news of Christ’s resurrection to the other disciples.

“Let us run through the scene described in the Gospel: the women arrive, they see the empty tomb and, ‘with fear and great joy,’ they run, the text says, ‘to tell his disciples,’” Francis said.

“Now, just as they are going to give this news, Jesus comes towards them. Let us take good note of this: Jesus encounters them while they are going to announce him. This is beautiful,” the pope said.

He explained that the day’s Gospel reminds us that the women disciples were the first to encounter Jesus after he rose from the dead. “We might ask ourselves: why them? For a very simple reason: because they were the first to go to the tomb.”

“Like all the disciples,” he 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.”

The women’s desire to anoint Jesus’ body with ointments, a gesture of love, prevails over everything else, he said. “They are not discouraged, they overcome their fears and their anguish. This is the way to find the Risen One: to overcome our fears, to overcome our anxieties.”

Pope Francis said the birth of a child is an example of a common moment when someone is overfilled with joy and cannot wait to share a good piece of news.

“One of the first things we do is to share this happy announcement with friends,” he said.

“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, every day or some important days, it happens infinitely more for Jesus,” he said, “who is not only good news, nor even the best news of life, no, he is life itself, ‘the resurrection and the life.’”

The pope said sharing this good news should be done with respect and love, and never through propaganda or proselytism. But it is “the most beautiful gift to share. Jesus dwells in us even more every time we announce it.”

“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,” he added.

Francis encouraged Christians to ask themselves when was the last time they bore witness to Jesus.

“Can someone, thinking of me, say: this person is serene, happy, good, because he has met Jesus? Can each of us say this? Let us ask Our Lady to help us be joyful proclaimers of the Gospel,” he said.

After the Regina Caeli, the pope wished everyone a happy Monday of the Angel and a happy Octave of Easter, “in which the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection is prolonged.”

“We persevere in invoking the gift of peace for the whole world, especially for dear and tormented Ukraine,” he said.