This is the question that I asked on Easter Sunday: “Is the candle tall enough?
This is the question that I ask on Easter Monday: “Is my hope tall enough?”
Pope Francis Easter Vigil Homily
April 19, 2014
The Gospel of the resurrection of Jesus Christ begins with the journey of the women to the tomb at dawn on the day after the Sabbath. They go to the tomb to honor the body of the Lord, but they find it open and empty.
A mighty angel says to them: “Do not be afraid!” (Mt 28:5) and orders them to go and tell the disciples: “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee” (v. 7). The women quickly depart and on the way Jesus himself meets them and says: “Do not fear; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (v. 10).
After the death of the Master, the disciples had scattered; their faith had been utterly shaken, everything seemed over, all their certainties had crumbled and their hopes had died. But now that message of the women, incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness.
The news spread: Jesus is risen as he said. And then there was his command to go to Galilee; the women had heard it twice, first from the angel and then from Jesus himself: “Let them go to Galilee; there they will see me”.
Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began! To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called. Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets. He had called them, and they left everything and followed him (cf. Mt 4:18-22).
To return to Galilee means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory. To re-read everything – Jesus’ preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal – to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love.
For each of us, too, there is a “Galilee” at the origin of our journey with Jesus. “To go to Galilee” means something beautiful, it means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience.
To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey. From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters. That flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy.
In the life of every Christian, after baptism there is also a more existential “Galilee”: the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission. In this sense, returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him. It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me.
Today, tonight, each of us can ask: What is my Galilee? Where is my Galilee? Do I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it? Lord, help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy.
The Gospel of Easter is very clear: we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection. This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia. It is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth.
“Galilee of the Gentiles” (Mt 4:15; Is 8:23)! Horizon of the Risen Lord, horizon of the Church; intense desire of encounter…. Let us be on our way!
“In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man, when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil; but we also see the immensity of God’s mercy who does not treat us according to our sins, but according to His mercy.”
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“The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.”
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even on this day after Easter Sunday, there can be dashed hopes. We wonder what God has in mind sometimes, if indeed he is thinking about us at all. We discuss the distress of our days and argue about how today can be fixed and about what tomorrow might be like, if either we or God don’t do something real fast. Among us believers there is conversation today, just as …
back then on the very day the disciples received word that others had said that the tomb of Jesus was empty.
As then, so now, in the midst of disappointments and wonderings, Jesus joins us “on the way” as we debate. Little by little, if we stay with the conversation, he turns our debate into a question and answer session, reminding us about what the plan has been all along and showing us that there is evidence even on this day, incomplete as it is, that the plan is moving ahead and is on schedule.
Showing himself to us in the breaking of the bread, he simply asks us to “stay at the table.”
Father Firas, now the parish priest of Jifna, formerly the parish priest of Aboud, sent this Easter greeting.
The Christian Palestinians of Aboud and Jifna – and throughout the entire West Bank – have a strong faith and an enduring hope, in spite of the trials and struggles that they have in their lives, due to “the situation,” that is, the military occupation of their land by the Israeli government.
They have much of which to be afraid, much at which to be alarmed, much by which to be troubled and much in which to weep. But they have Easter faith.
They know that Jesus is risen and that they too will rise.
Mass of Our Lord’s Supper: 7:30 pm
Night Prayer: 10:00 pm
Morning Prayer: 8:00 am
Way of the Cross: 12 noon
Good Friday Liturgy: 1:30 pm
Night Prayer: 10:00 pm
Morning Prayer: 8:00 am
Easter Vigil Mass: 8:30 pm
We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection,
through whom we are saved and delivered.
The Lord is truly risen, alleluia.
To him be glory and power
for all the ages of eternity, alleluia, alleluia.