The Vatican

Pope reminds us that the Resurrection of Christ gives new hope

This Saturday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. Pope Francis presided over the celebration of the Easter Vigil, celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

Loreto Rios-March 30, 2024-Reading time: 4 minutes

The Pope blesses the candle at the Easter Vigil, March 30, 2024 ©OSV

At 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, the Pope presided at the Easter Vigil in St. Peter's Basilica. The ceremony, which lasted almost two and a half hours, began in the atrium of the Basilica with the blessing of the fire and the preparation of the Easter candle.

After the procession to the altar, with the candle lit, and the singing of the Exultet, the Liturgy of the Word and the Baptismal Liturgy took place, during which Pope Francis administered the sacraments of Christian initiation to eight catechumens.

The sealed stone

In his homily, which he read personally, the Pope pointed out that "women go to the tomb in the light of dawn, but within themselves they still carry the darkness of the night". Because, "although they are on their way, they are still paralyzed, their heart has remained at the foot of the cross. Their sight is blurred by the tears of Good Friday, they are immobilized by pain, locked in the feeling that it is all over, and that the event of Jesus has already been sealed with a stone. And it is precisely the stone that is at the center of their thoughts. They ask themselves: 'Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb? When they arrive at the place, however, the surprising force of the Passover strikes them: 'When they looked,' says the text, 'they saw that the stone had been rolled away; it was a very large stone' (Mk 16:4)" (Mk 16:4).

The Holy Father paused to reflect on these two moments, "who will roll away the stone" and "when they looked, they saw that the stone had been rolled away".

The end of the story

"To begin with," says Francis, "there is the question that overwhelms his heart broken by sorrow: who will roll away the stone from the tomb? That stone represents the end of the story of Jesus, buried in the darkness of death. He, the life that came into the world, has died; He, who manifested the merciful love of the Father, received no mercy; He, who relieved sinners from the yoke of condemnation, was condemned to the cross. The Prince of peace, who freed an adulteress from the violent fury of the stones, lies in the tomb behind a great stone. That rock, an impassable obstacle, was the symbol of what the women carried in their hearts, the end of their hope. Everything had shattered against this slab, with the dark mystery of a tragic pain that had prevented them from realizing their dreams".

As the Pope pointed out, "this can happen to us too. Sometimes we feel that a tombstone has been placed heavily at the entrance to our heart, suffocating life, extinguishing confidence, locking us in the tomb of fears and bitterness, blocking the path to joy and hope. They are 'stumbling blocks of death' and we find them, along the way, in all the experiences and situations that rob us of the enthusiasm and strength to go forward; in the sufferings that assail us and in the death of our loved ones, which leave in us emptinesses impossible to fill; in the failures and fears that prevent us from realizing the good we desire; in all the obstacles that restrain our impulses of generosity and prevent us from opening ourselves to love; in the walls of selfishness and indifference that repel our commitment to build cities and societies that are more just and dignified for mankind; in all the yearnings for peace shattered by the cruelty of hatred and the ferocity of war. When we experience these disillusions, we have the feeling that many dreams are destined to be shattered and we too ask ourselves in anguish: who will roll away the stone from the tomb?

Endless hope

It is at this moment that the second part of the Gospel comes into play: "When they looked, they saw that the stone had been rolled away; it was a very large stone". The Pope pointed out that this is "the Passover of Christ, the power of God, the victory of life over death, the triumph of light over darkness, the rebirth of hope amidst the rubble of failure. It is the Lord, the God of the impossible, who forever rolled away the stone and began to open our tombs, so that hope may never end. Towards him, then, we too must look".

Let's look at Jesus

The Pontiff then invited us to "look to Jesus": "He, having assumed our humanity, descended into the abysses of death and crossed them with the power of his divine life, opening an infinite breach of light for each one of us. Resurrected by the Father in his flesh, which is also ours with the power of the Holy Spirit, he opened a new page for humanity. From that moment on, if we let ourselves be led by the hand of Jesus, no experience of failure or pain, no matter how much it hurts us, can have the last word on the meaning and destiny of our life. From that moment on, if we allow ourselves to be held by the Risen One, no defeat, no suffering, no death can stop us on our journey towards the fullness of life.

Renew our "yes".

The Holy Father invited every Christian to renew his "yes" to Jesus. In this way, "no stumbling block will be able to suffocate our heart, no tomb will be able to enclose the joy of living, no failure will be able to lead us to despair. Let us look to him and ask him that the power of his resurrection may remove the rocks that oppress our soul. Let us look to Him, the Risen One, and let us walk with the certainty that in the dark background of our expectations and of our death there is already present the eternal life that He came to bring".

Finally, the Pope concluded by asking everyone to let their "hearts burst with joy on this holy night," and closed his homily by quoting J. Y. Quellec: "Let us sing of the resurrection of Jesus together: 'Sing of him, far-off lands, rivers and plains, deserts and mountains [...] sing of the Lord of life who rises from the tomb, brighter than a thousand suns. O peoples destroyed by evil and stricken by injustice, landless peoples, martyred peoples, drive away on this night the singers of despair. The man of sorrows is no longer in prison, he has broken through the wall, he hastens to reach us. Let the unexpected cry be born from the darkness: he is alive, he is risen. And you, brothers and sisters, small and great [...] you in the effort of living, you who feel unworthy to sing [...] may a new flame pierce your heart, may a new freshness invade your voice. It is the Lord's Passover, it is the feast of the living'".

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