The homily given by Pope Francis this Holy Saturday, in St. Peter’s Basilica.
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER
MASS OF THE PASCAL SURVEY
(Holy Saturday, April 3, 2021)
The women hoped to find the corpse to anoint him; instead, they found an empty tomb. They went to mourn a dead man; instead, they heard a life announcement. That is why, as the Gospel says, those women “were full of fear and wonder” (Mc 16, 8). Wonderful: in this case, it is a mixture of fear and joy that takes possession of their hearts, when they see the great stone of the tomb rolled to the side and, inside, a young man in a white tunic. It is marvelous for the words heard: «Do not be alarmed! Are you looking for Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified one? He is risen ”(16, 6). And then for this invitation: “He goes before you on your way to Galilee; you will see Him there ”(16, 7). Let us also accept this invitation, the easter invitation: we go to Galilee, where the Risen Lord precedes us. But what does it mean to “go to Galilee”?
Going to Galilee means, first of all, restart. For the disciples, it is returning to the place where the Lord initially sought them out and called them to follow Him. It is the place of the first meeting and the first love. Since then, leaving the nets, they followed Jesus, listening to his preaching and watching the prodigies he performed. And yet, despite being always with Him, they did not fully understand Him, often misunderstood His words and, in view of the cross, fled leaving Him alone. Notwithstanding this bankruptcy, the Risen Lord presents Himself as the One who precedes them once again in Galilee; it precedes them, that is, it is before them. He had called them to follow Him, and he called them again without ever getting tired. The Risen One is saying to them: “Let us start from where we started. We recommend it. I want you again with me, despite and beyond all failures ». In this Galilee, we learn to marvel at the Lord’s infinite love, which traces new paths in the paths of our defeats.
Here is the first Easter ad I would like to leave you with: you can always start over, because there is a new life that God is able, regardless of all our failures, to restart in us. God can build a work of art even from the rubble of our hearts; out of the ruined pieces of our humanity, God prepares a new story. He always precedes us: on the cross of suffering, desolation and death, as well as in the glory of a life that resurfaces, of a history that changes, of a hope that is reborn. And in these dark pandemic months, let us hear the risen Lord who invites us to start over, never to lose hope.
Going to Galilee means, secondly, walk new paths. It is moving in the opposite direction from the grave. Women look for Jesus in the tomb, that is, they will remember what they lived with Him and that, now, is lost forever. They will pass on their sadness. It is the image of a faith that became a celebration of a beautiful thing but that is over, just to remember. Many live the “faith of remembrance”, as if Jesus were a character from the past, a friend of youth who was far away, a fact that happened a long time ago when, as a child, he attended catechesis. A faith made of habits, things from the past, beautiful childhood memories, a faith that no longer touches or challenges me. On the contrary, going to Galilee means learning that faith, in order to be alive, must continue to walk. Every day you must revive the beginning of the path, the wonder of the first encounter. And then to trust, without the presumption of knowing everything, but with the humility of those who let themselves be surprised by the ways of God. We go to Galilee to discover that God cannot be fixed between childhood memories, but he is alive, he always surprises. Risen, he never ceases to surprise us.
Here is the second Easter announcement: faith is not a repertoire of the past, Jesus is not an outdated character. He is alive, here and now. Walk with you every day, in the situation you are experiencing, in the ordeal you are going through, in the dreams that you carry within you. It opens up new paths where it doesn’t seem to exist, it impels you to go against the current regarding nostalgia and the “already seen”. Even if everything seems lost, open yourself up to its novelty: it will surprise you.
Going to Galilee also means go to the ends. Because Galilee is the most distant place: in that compound and diverse region, live those who are farthest from the ritual purity of Jerusalem. And yet Jesus began his mission from there, addressing the announcement to those who wearily carry daily life, to the excluded, to the fragile, to the poor, to be the face and presence of God who tirelessly goes in search of those who are discouraged or lost, who It moves to the ends of existence because, in its eyes, no one is the last, no one is excluded. And today is also where the Risen One asks his people to go. It is the place of daily life, the paths we travel every day, the corners of our cities where the Lord precedes us and makes himself present, precisely in the life of those who are by our side and who share the time, the house with us. , work, fatigue and hopes. In Galilee, we learned that it is possible to find the Risen One in the face of the brothers, in the enthusiasm of those who dream and in the resignation of those who are discouraged, in the smiles of those who rejoice and in the tears of those who suffer, especially in the poor and those who are marginalized. We will be amazed to see how the greatness of God is revealed in smallness, how its beauty shines in the simple and the poor.
And so we have the third Easter announcement: Jesus, the Risen One, loves us without borders and visits every situation in our life. He planted his presence in the heart of the world and also invites us to overcome barriers, to overcome prejudices, to approach those who are beside us day by day, to rediscover the grace of everyday life. Let us recognize Him present in our “galileas”, in everyday life. With Him, life will change. Because, beyond all defeats, evil and violence, beyond all suffering and beyond death, the Risen One lives and guides history.
Brother, sister, if you have a dark hour in your heart tonight, a day that has not yet dawned, a buried light, a shattered dream, open your heart in amazement to the announcement of Easter: «Do not be afraid, you are risen! Wait for you in Galilee ». Your longings will be fulfilled, your tears will be wiped away, your fears will be overcome by hope. Because the Lord precedes you, walk ahead of you. And with him, life begins anew.
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