At 12:00 noon, from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father Francis addressed this message to pilgrims present in St Peter’s Square and to those who listened to him through the radio, the television and the Internet:
“Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter! Jesus is risen from the dead!
This message resounds in the Church the world over, along with the singing of the Alleluia: Jesus is Lord; the Father has raised him and he lives forever in our midst. Jesus had foretold his death and resurrection using the image of the grain of wheat. He said: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). And this is precisely what happened: Jesus, the grain of wheat sowed by God in the furrows of the earth, died, killed by the sin of the world. He remained two days in the tomb; but his death contained God’s love in all its power, released and made manifest on the third day, the day we celebrate today: the Easter of Christ the Lord.
We Christians believe and know that Christ’s resurrection is the true hope of the world, the hope that does not disappoint. It is the power of the grain of wheat, the power of that love which humbles itself and gives itself to the very end, and thus truly renews the world. This power continues to bear fruit today in the furrows of our history, marked by so many acts of injustice and violence. It bears fruits of hope and dignity where there are deprivation and exclusion, hunger and unemployment, where there are migrants and refugees (so often rejected by today’s culture of waste), and victims of the drug trade, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery.
Today we implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war. This Easter, may the light of the risen Christ illumine the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course, that humanitarian law may be respected and that provisions be made to facilitate access to the aid so urgently needed by our brothers and sisters, while also ensuring fitting conditions for the return of the displaced.
We beseech fruits of reconciliation for the Holy Land, also experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenceless, for Yemen and for the entire Middle East, so that dialogue and mutual respect may prevail over division and violence. May our brothers and sisters in Christ, who not infrequently put up with injustices and persecution, be radiant witnesses of the risen Lord and of the victory of good over evil.
We invoke on this day fruits of hope for those who yearn for a more dignified life, above all in those areas of the African continent deeply affected by hunger, endemic conflicts and terrorism. May the peace of the risen Lord heal wounds in South Sudan and the strife-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo, and open hearts to dialogue and mutual understanding. Let us not forget the victims of that conflict, especially the children! May there be no lack of solidarity with all those forced to abandon leave their native lands and lacking the bare essentials for living.
We implore fruits of dialogue for the Korean peninsula, that the discussions under way may advance harmony and peace within the region. May those who are directly responsible act with wisdom and discernment to promote the good of the Korean people and to build relationships of trust within the international community.
We also beseech fruits of peace for Ukraine, that the steps taken to favour harmony may be consolidated and facilitated by the humanitarian initiatives needed by its people.
We also invoke fruits of consolation for the Venezuelan people, who, as their bishops have written, are living in a kind of “foreign land” within their own country. May that nation, by the power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, find a just, peaceful and humane way to surmount quickly the political and humanitarian crises that grip it. May welcome and assistance not be wanting to its sons and daughters forced to abandon their homeland.
May the risen Christ bring fruits of new life to those children, who as a result of wars and hunger, grow up without hope, lacking education and health care; and to those elderly persons who are cast off by a selfish culture that ostracizes those who are not “productive”.
We also implore fruits of wisdom for those who have political responsibilities in our world, that they may always respect human dignity, devote themselves actively to the pursuit of the common good, and ensure the development and security of their own citizens.
Dear brothers and sisters,
The words heard by the women at the tomb are also addressed to us: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen” (Lk 24:5-6). Death, solitude and fear are not the last word. There is a word that transcends them, a word that only God can speak: it is the word of the resurrection (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Conclusion of the Way of the Cross, 18 April 2003). By the power of God’s love, it “dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord and brings down the mighty” (Easter Proclamation).
Happy Easter to all!”
Earlier, at the Easter Sunday Mass in front of an estimated 80,000 faithful in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope gave the following homily off the cuff:
“After having listened to the word of God, this passage from the Gospel, I want to say three things. First, the announcement: the Lord is Risen. That proclamation, that from the first Christians they would greet each other this way, the Lord is risen. And the women that were there to anoint the Lord’s body, they found themselves in front of a surprise. The Surprise. The announcements of God are always a surprise, because ours is a God of surprises. So from the beginning of the history of salvation, from Abraham, who God tells to go, get up and go to the land I sent you to, there’s always one surprise after another. God doesn’t know how to make an announcement, a proclamation, without surprising us. And that surprise moves your heart, it touches you. It happens when you don’t expect it. It’s a surprise from ‘down low’, it takes you off guard. God’s announcement was a surprise. The rush, the women were in a hurry to get to the tomb…the surprises of God put us on the path, on the journey without waiting. So they run to see, and Peter and John, they run. The shepherds, the night of Christmas when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, ran. The Samaritan woman runs to tell her people, “I met a man who told me everything I had ever done.” These people run, they leave. They leave what they’re doing. The housewife leaves the potatoes and the pot, and they’ll be burned, but the important thing is to run. And they’ll see that surprise, that announcement. Today this also happens to us in our neighborhoods. Things happen and people go to see what happened. People go with great haste. Andrew didn’t waste time and he went to Peter. The surprises, the good news, are always given this way, with great haste.
In the Gospel there is a person who takes their time, who doesn’t want to take a risk, but the Lord is good, and he waits for him with great love. This is Thomas, who said “I’ll believe when I see his wounds.” The Lord is patient with those people who do not get up and leave with great haste. The announcement is a surprise, the answer is with great haste.
Thirdly, is a question: and me, what? What about me? Is my heart open to God’s surprises? Am I able to go with great haste, or with that chant I stay back and say “I’ll go tomorrow”? What is the surprise saying to me? For John and Peter, they ran to the tomb. John in his Gospel, tells us to believe. And Peter, believed with that faith that is a bit mixed with remorse for having denied the Lord. The announcement that has made a surprise, to run and go with great haste, and the question: what about me, today, in this Easter in 2018? What about me? What about you?”