Following the Easter Sunday Mass, Pope Francis delivers his Easter message and blessing “To the City and the World”, underscoring the joyous hope that Christ’s resurrection brings and encouraging Christians to rediscover the joy of serving God, working for peace, and helping our brothers and sisters in a world marked by so much suffering.
By Thaddeus Jones
Pope Francis gave his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” Easter message on Sunday, appearing from the central loggia of Saint Peter’s Basilica overlooking the Square below where he had just presided over the Easter morning Mass.
The Mass and “Urbi et Urbi” (from the Latin: ‘To the city and the world’) message and blessing went out live on broadcasts around the world. Over one hundred thousand people filled the Square and surrounding avenues, which were navigated by the Pope in the popemobile as he greeted them following the Mass.
As usual, the flowers donated by florists from the Netherlands appeared brilliantly under the mild Spring sunshine. Close to thirty thousand flowers adorned the square and the balcony of the loggia, recalling the theme of new life, hope, and joy at Easter.
Bridge to life
In his Easter message, Pope Francis began first by announcing the joyous message of this day when we proclaim that Christ is risen.
In Jesus, the passage of humanity from death to life, sin to grace, fear to confidence and desolation to communion has been made, the Pope declared, wishing everyone a Happy Easter.
In particular, he greeted the sick, the poor, the elderly and all those suffering that they may experience the passage from affliction to consolation. He called on everyone to remember and rejoice that “the Lord has built us a bridge to life” in defeating death, making it for us “the most important and beautiful day of history.”
“Christ is risen; He is truly risen!”
The Pope explained how the word “truly” in the Easter proclamation underscores that the Lord’s resurrection is a reality, not just wishful thinking. And this means that humanity’s journey has a sure footing in hope and therefore can move forward with confidence in facing the many challenges now and ahead.
Recalling the example of the first disciples, witnesses of the resurrection, the Pope described how they all hurried to tell others this good news. Humanity is called today as well “to make haste” to meet Jesus Christ, the goal of our journey and hope of the world.
“May we too make haste to progress on a journey of reciprocal trust: trust among individuals, peoples and nations,” he said. “May we allow ourselves to experience amazement at the joyful proclamation of Easter, at the light that illumines the darkness and the gloom in which, all too often, our world finds itself enveloped.”
Looking at the urgent efforts needed to resolve conflicts and divisions and pursue paths of peace and fraternity, the Pope praised those who are doing all they can to offer assistance and welcome to people fleeing war and poverty. He asked that the Lord may open all our hearts to do the same.
Light of Easter on Ukraine and Russia
The Pope prayed for peace for the “beloved Ukrainian people” and that the light of Easter may shine on the people of Russia.
May the Lord “comfort the wounded and all who have lost loved ones due to the war,” he continued, and may prisoners return home and the entire international community strive to end war globally.
The Pope spoke of Syria, still awaiting peace, and earthquake victims there and in neighboring Turkey where our continued solidarity is needed.
Healing the divisions
Remembering the holy city of Jerusalem, the Pope prayed for a resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, so that peace may prevail. He prayed for help to Lebanon as it struggles to regain stability and unity.
He mentioned Tunisia as well, praying that the young and those suffering from social and economic hardship may not lose hope and find ways to build a future of peace and fraternity.
Peace and reconciliation
The Pope asked for help for Haiti where social and economic hardship still weigh heavily on the people struggling for a way out of their many challenges.
May the Lord support peace and reconciliation efforts in Ethiopia and in South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he recalled. And he prayed for consolation for victims of international terrorism, especially in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mozambique and Nigeria.
Pope Francis recalled Christian communities celebrating Easter in Nicaragua and Eritrea, praying for them and for all citizens that they may be able to freely and publicly profess their faith.
The Pope then mentioned Myanmar that peace may prevail and enlighten the hearts of leaders so that “deeply-afflicted Rohingya may encounter justice.”
Respect for human dignity
May the Lord give comfort to refugees, deportees, political prisoners and migrants, the Pope prayed, especially the most vulnerable.
And may we all help the victims of hunger, drug abuse, human trafficking and all other forms of slavery, he added, as we ask the Lord to inspire the leaders of nations to assure respect for human dignity so these social wounds may be healed.
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