Sunday, May 18, 2014

From Pope Francis' homily at the 2013 Easter Vigil

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. Dear brothers and sisters, we are afraid of God's surprises! He always surprises us! The Lord is like that.

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.

Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is projected towards the future; Jesus 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, for you 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!

“Beyond a tomb, there is always hope.”

Contemplating the contrasting feelings of the women and the guards, we can ask ourselves: Are we here today celebrating the new life that the risen Jesus offers and bestows on us? What appeals to us more, the closed sanctuary of the tomb or that happy uncertainty of the angel’s announcement? Where is our heart: in the certainty that dead things offered us, without a future, or in that joy in hope of one who is the bearer of news of life? Do we run toward life with the promise of finding it in the Galilee of that encounter, or do we prefer the existential payoff that is guaranteed us by any stone that closes and seals off our heart? Do I prefer sadness or a simple paralyzing satisfaction, or am I encouraged to navigate that path of joy that is born of the conviction that my Redeemer lives?

Before Moses died, he called the people together and told them, “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil” (Deuteronomy 30:15). Today, too, in this liturgical celebration close to the risen Jesus truly present on the altar, the Church proposes something similar: Either we believe in the decisiveness of the tomb closed by the stone, adopt it as a way of life, and feed our heart with sadness, or we are encouraged to receive the angel’s message: “He is not here, he has arisen,” and we take up that gentle and comforting joy of evangelizing which opens the path to proclaiming that he is alive and awaiting us at every moment, in the Galilee of his meeting with each person.