Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pope Francis: Easter Vigil Homily

Dear Brothers and Sisters, In the Gospel of this radiant night of the Easter Vigil, we first meet the women who go the tomb of Jesus with spices to anoint his body (cf. Lk 24:1-3). They go to perform an act of compassion, a traditional act of affection and love for a dear departed person, just as we would. They had followed Jesus, they had listened to his words, they had felt understood by him in their dignity and they had accompanied him to the very end, to Calvary and to the moment when he was taken down from the cross. We can imagine their feelings as they make their way to the tomb: a certain sadness, sorrow that Jesus had left them, he had died, his life had come to an end. Life would now go on as before. Yet the women continued to feel love, the love for Jesus which now led them to his tomb. But at this point, something completely new and unexpected happens, something which upsets their hearts and their plans, something which will upset their whole life: they see the stone removed from before the tomb, they draw near and they do not find the Lord’s body. It is an event which leaves them perplexed, hesitant, full of questions: “What happened?”, “What is the meaning of all this?” (cf. Lk 24:4). Doesn’t the same thing also happen to us when something completely new occurs in our everyday life? We stop short, we don’t understand, we don’t know what to do. Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us. We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises; we are afraid of God’s surprises! He always surprises us!

Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives! Are we often weary, disheartened and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up: there are no situations which God cannot change, there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him.

2. But let us return to the Gospel, to the women, and take one step further. They find the tomb empty, the body of Jesus is not there, something new has happened, but all this still doesn’t tell them anything certain: it raises questions; it leaves them confused, without offering an answer. And suddenly there are two men in dazzling clothes who say: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; but has risen” (Lk 24:5-6). What was a simple act, done surely out of love – going to the tomb – has now turned into an event, a truly life-changing event. Nothing remains as it was before, not only in the lives of those women, but also in our own lives and in the history of mankind. Jesus is not dead, he has risen, he is alive! He does not simply return to life; rather, he is life itself, because he is the Son of God, the living God (cf. Num 14:21-28; Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10). Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is projected towards the future; he is the everlasting “today” of God. This is how the newness of God appears to the women, the disciples and all of us: as victory over sin, evil and death, over everything that crushes life and makes it seem less human. And this is a message meant for me and for you, dear sister, dear brother. How often does Love have to tell us: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness... and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.

3. There is one last little element that I would like to emphasize in the Gospel for this Easter Vigil. The women encounter the newness of God. Jesus has risen, he is alive! But faced with empty tomb and the two men in brilliant clothes, their first reaction is one of fear: “they were terrified and bowed their faced to the ground”, Saint Luke tells us – they didn’t even have courage to look. But when they hear the message of the Resurrection, they accept it in faith. And the two men in dazzling clothes tell them something of crucial importance: “Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee… And they remembered his words” (Lk 24:6,8). They are asked to remember their encounter with Jesus, to remember his words, his actions, his life; and it is precisely this loving remembrance of their experience with the Master that enables the women to master their fear and to bring the message of the Resurrection to the Apostles and all the others (cf. Lk 24:9). To remember what God has done and continues to do for me, for us, to remember the road we have travelled; this is what opens our hearts to hope for the future. May we learn to remember everything that God has done in our lives.

On this radiant night, let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who treasured all these events in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51) and ask the Lord to give us a share in his Resurrection. May he open us to the newness that transforms. May he make us men and women capable of remembering all that he has done in our own lives and in the history of our world. May he help us to feel his presence as the one who is alive and at work in our midst. And may he teach us each day not to look among the dead for the Living One. Amen.

Source: Vatican Radio


  1. "On this radiant night, let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who treasured all these events in her heart"...he is really a Marian Pope. Apparently he has been saying 4 rosaries a day for many years...

  2. Easter Sunday at the Vatican filled up just as it does every year, but a new face gave Catholics around the world hope with a meaningful new message. Pope Francis gave the holiday mass by calling for peace and making the crowd of thousands feel like they were in a much more intimate setting. It’s only been a few weeks since Pope Benedict has resigned and Francis has taken over, and many Catholics are interested and excited to see what he will do with his new title. Pope Francis’ optimistic and energetic attitude has the power to reinvent the Catholic world and has already proven to impress many. Francis’ differences from Benedict are like night and day, which can help to draw many Catholics back in and more devoted than ever before.
    Pope Francis was born in 1936 as Jorge Mario in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Regina and Mario Bergoglio. He is the first ever Jesuit pope as well as the first pope from Latin America. Francis is the first pope that has not been from Europe in more than 1,000 years, which automatically gives him a unique feel. When the pope was made the archbishop in Buenos Aires in 1997, he proved to be a simple and non-self-centered man by doing things like making his own meals and taking public transportation to work. He was elected pope on March 13, 2013 around one month after Pope Benedict announced his resignation.
    Pope Francis is already being looked at as very different from Pope Benedict. It seems that they have two totally different approaches and attitudes when it comes to how they want to be represented. One difference between the two men is their views on homosexuality. While Benedict has always taken the conservative and traditional views against civil rights for homosexuals, our new pope has openly supported equality for gay couples in recent years. Now that he is pope he has changed what he has said and is not as flexible on the issue, saying gay couples should not be able to adopt children. Although this is his opinion now, his past comments can give hope to many Catholics who support equality for homosexuals.
    Pope Francis is looked at as different from others for a few reasons. First, he is the first pope in many years that has been elected after the announcement of resignation from another pope. This automatically caused a huge buzz and led people who may not have paid attention to a new pope previously to now become interested. After a bland pope, many were interested to see what the Catholic Church could find in electing a new man for the job. They took full advantage of the situation and chose someone perfect for the job.
    Francis’ uniqueness has also become a reason for all of the interest. So far, he has proven not to be an extravagant man. It seems silly at times for the special treatment of the pope, but Francis has not shown his selfish side. As someone who took the bus to work everyday, this is a huge change. Hopefully he can somewhat keep up with this simple kind of mentality, which can definitely do great things for the Catholic Church’s representation.
    Being a devoted Catholic seems to be not as popular with younger generations these days. In order for a new wave of Catholics to come along, something needs to be done. Traditional views need to be tweaked and Pope Francis has the power to bring back the unity of Catholicism. There are so many beautiful traditions associated with Catholicism and it would be a shame to see some of it die out because of old-fashioned and worn out ideals. Some things associated with Catholicism really need to be changed and hopefully Francis can contribute to this, otherwise the Catholic Church will start to suffer. The world will not put up with these kind of views for much longer. Pope Francis seems to be a perfect man for the job and can really help to reinvent this historic religion.