By Vatican News staff writer
Throughout the world, the Church proclaims the joyous news that “Jesus, who was crucified, has risen as He said. Alleluia!”, Pope Francis said at the start of his Easter message broadcast live around the world.
He delivered his Urbi et Orbi message inside St. Peter’s Basilica, just like last year, due to coronavirus safety measures.
He had just concluded presiding over the Easter Sunday Mass at the Altar of the Chair with a small congregation participating. The Basilica featured arrays of Avalanche roses given by Dutch florists who traditionally filled St. Peter’s Square with flowers on Easter every year, but had to stop temporarily due to the pandemic.
The Easter reality of the Resurrection offers concrete, tangible hope and consolation, the Pope noted, but its message does not offer us “a mirage or reveal a magic formula” we might wish as an escape exit to the world’s difficult realities.
Among them, the spread of the pandemic, social and economic crisis hitting the poor especially, but also, he noted the “scandalous” fact that “armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened.”
Hope that does not disappoint
The Easter message of hope tells us concisely that “the crucified Jesus, none other, has risen from the dead”, Pope Francis said, adding that God the Father raised Jesus, who accomplished His saving will by taking upon Himself our weakness, infirmities, the weight of our sins, even our death. Because of this, the Pope said, “God the Father exalted Him and now Jesus Christ lives forever; He is the Lord.”
The wounds Jesus bears in His hands, feet and side are “the everlasting seal of His love for us”, the Pope noted, and all who experience trials in body or spirit can find refuge in them and “receive the grace of the hope that does not disappoint.”
Hope and solidarity in pandemic times
Pope Francis went on to say that the Risen Christ gives hope and comfort for those suffering from the pandemic, the sick and those who have lost a loved one. He also prayed that the Lord might “sustain the valiant efforts of doctors and nurses”.
He stressed that everyone, especially the vulnerable, needs assistance and has a right to care, and vaccines are essential. He appealed to the international community “to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries.”
The Risen Lord is comfort for the unemployed and those suffering economic difficulties, the Pope said. He prayed that Christ might “inspire public authorities to act so that everyone, especially families in greatest need” can be provided with help in order to avoid sliding into poverty, a sad reality the pandemic has dramatically worsened.
The Pope referred also to the psychological weight of the pandemic on young people, who are often forced to stay at home without attending school or visiting friends in person. He expressed his “closeness to young people throughout the world”.
Hope that brings peace to our world
Quoting Saint John Paul II when visiting Haiti, “the poor of every kind must begin once more to hope”, he said as his thoughts also turned to the “beloved Haitian people”, urging them “to look to the future with confidence and hope", and not be overwhelmed by current difficulties. He underscored his closeness to them and that their problems may be definitively resolved.
Pope Francis prayed for the young people of Myanmar “committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully,” so that “hatred can be dispelled only by love.”
He recalled migrants fleeing from war and extreme poverty and that the “light of the risen Jesus be a source of rebirth” for them, as we see in them the “marred and suffering face of the Lord” on the path to Calvary. This calls for concrete signs of solidarity and human fraternity” on the part of all, he noted, and he thanked nations receiving those who seek refuge, citing Lebanon and Jordan which have taken in so many refugees fleeing violence in neighboring Syria.
May the people of Lebanon, he prayed, “find support from the international community” in these tough times and persevere in being “a land of encounter, coexistence and pluralism.”
And “may Christ our peace” halt the clash of arms in “beloved and war-torn Syria”, the Pope underscored, where millions are suffering.
He also pointed out the “deafening and scandalous silence” regarding the suffering in Yemen.
Looking to the nation of Libya, he noted the hopes there are finally for an end to the decade of bloodshed and unrest. In all these lands, he encouraged all parties involved to “commit themselves” to end these conflicts and allow “war-weary peoples to live in peace” and rebuild their lives and communities.
Living as brothers and sisters
The Resurrection takes us to Jerusalem, the Pope went on to say, where “we ask the Lord to grant peace and security,” so it can “embrace its calling” to be a place where “all can see one another as brothers and sisters”. He encouraged Israelis and Palestinians to “rediscover the power of dialogue” so a solution can be found to “enable the two states to dwell side by side in peace and prosperity.”
Pope Francis also recalled his visit last month to Iraq, and prayed that the nation continues on the “path to peace” and “fulfil God’s dream for a human family hospitable and welcoming to all his children.”
Overcome the mindset of war
The Pope’s thoughts then turned to Africa, especially places suffering from internal violence and international terrorism in areas of the Sahel, Nigeria, Tigray and the Cabo Delgado region of Mozambique, and prayed the conflicts may be resolved peacefully through “dialogue in a spirit of reconciliation and true solidarity”.
Too many wars and too much violence plague our world, the Pope lamented. He prayed, “May the Lord, who is our peace, help us to overcome the mindset of war.”
May prisoners of conflicts be freed in eastern Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, he added, and may the arms race be curbed. He recalled that Sunday, 4 April, marks the International Awareness Day against anti-personnel landmines, and said these “insidious and horrible devices” kill or maim many innocent people each year. He also stressed “how much better our world would be without these instruments of death!”
Healed by the wounds of Christ
In conclusion, Pope Francis recognized how in so many places Christians have celebrated Easter under severe restrictions, sometimes unable to attend liturgical celebrations. He prayed that these, and all restrictions on freedom of worship and religion worldwide, may be lifted so all are allowed to pray and praise God freely.
Amid these many hardships, the Pope said, we must always remember that “we have been healed by the wounds of Christ” and in light of the Risen Lord, “our sufferings are now transfigured…where there was death, now there is life”.
He concluded, saying: “We pray that the benefits of that healing will spread throughout the world. Happy Easter to all of you!”
After delivering his Urbi et Orbi Easter message, the Pope imparted his apostolic blessing.