From the Hermitage
Easter Sunday 2014
Yesterday evening, in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis began his homily with these words.
"Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus
who was crucified. He is not here;
for he has been raised ....
Come, see the place where he lay"
The opening words, "Do not be afraid," were often used by Blessed John Paul II whom the Church will officially canonized one week from today. These two Pope suffered much during their pre-papal day, usually in quiet and behind the scenes of their public lives.
As both Popes said on different occasions, Easter, this is the high point of the Gospel message the four evangelists and our Church has preached since the first Easter Sunday. What we celebrate today is what we say so often from pulpits throughout the world: this is the Good News.
This day and what it is stands for us as the basis of our faith, that is our relationship with God. What is so important to realize and remember more that on one Sunday each year is that if Jesus, the Christ, were not risen from the dead, the very mission of our Church would lose its impulse, its very reason for being. It was from that first Easter Sunday that the apostles and other disciples set out the mission of the Church. Their message is not different today. It has always been the same: "Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins." Yes, indeed he did. But God, his Father, our Father, wanted the apostles and disciples and us to know that Jesus is the Lord of life and death." It was the love of Jesus for the Father and for all human kind, that he willingly suffered with his love being the driving force in his very being that through his death and rising has overcome, has triumphed over, hatred, mercy has overcome our sinfulness, goodness has challenged evil and truth has smashed lies, and life has triumphed over death.
The message of Easter Sunday is the very reason people of every religion persuasion tell others "Come and see!" Where there is frailty, sin and death, the Good News of the Gospel, regardless of the words used, the Good News stands as a testimony to love that is unconditional and forever faithful. It is the message of Easter Sunday to us today to step out of ourselves to help anyone being "crushed by life's troubles, sharing with the needy, standing by the side of the sick, the elderly and the outcasts. The message is the same in each religion: Come and see! See that Love is more powerful, that love gives life, and love "makes hoe blossom int the wilderness."
Let us, with our Easter joy, turn to the Lord today. Let us seek and find Him. Let us realize that our Father is truly "ours" and we can never see ourselves as orphans. We can always turn to the Father who gift to us this day is love beyond all telling.
And, as we pray today, let us petition with great intensity that God will help us overcome the scourge of hunger in our world. Let us pray that we always seek to protect the vulnerable in our societies, children, women and the elderly -- these are the vulnerable who are at time exploited and then abandoned. Today is the day when we look everywhere to recognize the failure of our societies to overlook the life that was given to each person born on this earth.
Lord, we ask you in prayer today to help all the people of our earth. You conquered death, now "grant us life, grant us your peace." Amen.