Easter shows the power of love, which renews the world, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Easter makes it clear that in the life
of Jesus, but also in the lives of modern men and women, “death, solitude
and fear” do not have the last word, Pope Francis said before giving his
Easter blessing.

“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,'” the pope said as he prepared April 1 to give his Easter
blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).

“By the power of God’s love,” Jesus’ victory over
death “dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the
fallen and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord and brings down
the mighty,” the pope said, quoting the formal Easter proclamation.

Standing on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica
after having celebrated a morning Mass in the square, Pope Francis focused on
how Jesus foretold his death and resurrection using the image of the grain of
wheat, which bears no fruit unless it is put into the ground.

“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,” the pope said. “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.”

After a stormy Holy Saturday with rain beating down
throughout the night, Easter morning dawned bright and sunny at the Vatican, highlighting
the thousands of flowers, trees and bushes donated by flower growers in the

The garden created on the steps of St. Peter’s Square
included 20,000 tulips in yellow, red, pink, white and orange. Some 13,500
daffodils and more than 3,500 roses also were part of the scene, but the
flower-growers association drew special attention to close to 1,000 cymbidium,
also known as boat orchids. The orchids closest to the altar were green, the
color of hope. Others were yellow, speckled with red, reminiscent of drops of
Christ’s blood, according to the press release from the flower growers.

Pope Francis gave a brief homily during the Mass, speaking
without a prepared text about how God’s actions throughout history to save his
people have been acts that surprised them, touched their hearts and prompted
them to rush to share the news with others.

“The women who had gone to anoint the Lord’s body found
themselves before a surprise” when they reached the empty tomb, he said.
“God’s announcements are always a surprise, because our God is a God of

That surprise caused the women to rush back to the other
disciples to share the news, he said, just like the shepherds rushed when they
heard the angels announce Jesus’ birth and like Peter and John ran to tell
others when they found the teacher and master they had been seeking.

“Those people left what they were doing; housewives
left their potatoes in the pan — they would find them burned later — but what
is important is to go, run to see the surprise” that was announced, Pope
Francis said.

On Easter, he said, Christians should ask themselves if they
have hearts open to being surprised by God and if they feel a need to rush to
share with others the good news of God’s saving acts.

After the Mass and after greeting each of the cardinals and
many of the bishops and monsignors present near the altar, Pope Francis climbed
into the popemobile for a quick trip around St. Peter’s Square and part of the
way down the main boulevard leading to the square. He then went up to the
balcony to give his formal Easter blessing.

In his remarks to the tens of thousands of people in St.
Peter’s Square, Pope Francis insisted Jesus’ power over death continues today
and can bring peace to the world’s most serious situations of conflict,
including in Syria, the Holy Land, Yemen, Congo, South Sudan, Ukraine, the
Korean peninsula and Venezuela.

“We Christians believe and know that Christ’s
resurrection is the true hope of the world, the hope that does not
disappoint,” the pope said. “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.”

In all the “furrows of our history, marked by so many
acts of injustice and violence,” he said, the power of the Resurrection
and the acts it inspires in believers “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

Pope Francis included special prayers for “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.'”


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