Francis, “Let yourselves be surprised by this new dawn”
Francis’s Vigil in St. Peter's Basilica: corruption and paralyzing bureaucracy crucify human dignity (???)The faces of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary in front of the tomb of Jesus "mirror" those "of women, mothers, who weep as they see the lives of their children crushed by massive corruption that strips them of their rights and shatters their dreams.” Pope Francis said in the solemn Vigil Night of the Holy Easter, April 15, 2017, in St. Peter's Basilica. In his homily, the Pope urges us " to allow ourselves to be surprised by this new dawn and by the newness that Christ alone can give. "
The ritual begins in the atrium of the Basilica with the blessing of the fire and preparation of the paschal candle. The procession to the altar, with the Easter candle and the singing of the Exultet, was followed by the Liturgy of the Word and the baptismal liturgy, during which the Bishop of Rome administered the sacraments of Christian initiation to eleven newcomers from Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, the United States, Albania, Malta, Malaysia and China; the youngest is 9 years old, the eldest 50.
The Pope begins by quoting the Gospel of Matthew: "After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb" Francesco invites us to "picture them as they went on their way… They walked like people going to a cemetery, with uncertain and weary steps, like those who find it hard to believe that this is how it all ended. We can picture their faces, pale and tearful. And their question: can Love have truly died?"
“Unlike the disciples, the women are present – just as they had been present as the Master breathed his last on the cross, and then, with Joseph of Arimathea, as he was laid in the tomb. Two women who did not run away, who remained steadfast, who faced life as it is and who knew the bitter taste of injustice. We see them there, before the tomb, filled with grief but equally incapable of accepting that things must always end this way.”
The Pope invites us to try to imagine this scene "we can see in the faces of those women any number of other faces: the faces of mothers and grandmothers, of children and young people who bear the grievous burden of injustice and brutality. In their faces, we can see reflected all those who, walking the streets of our cities, feel the pain of dire poverty, the sorrow born of exploitation and human trafficking. We can also see the faces of those who are greeted with contempt because they are immigrants, deprived of country, house and family. We see faces whose eyes bespeak loneliness and abandonment, because their hands are creased with wrinkles."
Mary of Magdala and the other Mary "mirror the faces of women, mothers, who weep as they see the lives of their children crushed by massive corruption that strips them of their rights and shatters their dreams. By daily acts of selfishness that crucify and then bury people’s hopes. By paralyzing and barren bureaucracies that stand in the way of change." In their suffering, "those two women reflect the faces of all those who, walking the streets of our cities, behold human dignity crucified."
And again, the faces of those women, "mirror many other faces too, including perhaps yours and mine. Like them, we can feel driven to keep walking and not resign ourselves to the fact that things have to end this way."
Even "our faces bear the mark of wounds, of so many acts of infidelity, our own and those of others, of efforts made and battles lost. In our hearts, we know that things can be different but, almost without noticing it, we can grow accustomed to living with the tomb, living with frustration."
For Papa Bergoglio, we can make things even worse and "convince ourselves that this is the law of life, and blunt our consciences with forms of escape that only serve to dampen the hope that God has entrusted to us. So often we walk as those women did, poised between the desire of God and bleak resignation. Not only does the Master die, but our hope dies with him.”
But the " The heartbeat of the Risen Lord is granted us as a gift, a present, a new horizon. The beating heart of the Risen Lord is given to us, and we are asked to give it in turn as a transforming force, as the leaven of a new humanity. In the resurrection, Christ rolled back the stone of the tomb, but he wants also to break down all the walls that keep us locked in our sterile pessimism, in our carefully constructed ivory towers that isolate us from life, in our compulsive need for security and in boundless ambition that can make us compromise the dignity of others."
Francis points out that " When the High Priest and the religious leaders, in collusion with the Romans, believed that they could calculate everything, that the final word had been spoken and that it was up to them to apply it, God suddenly breaks in, upsets all the rules and offers new possibilities.”
The Lord, "once more comes to meet us, to create and consolidate a new age, the age of mercy. This is the promise present from the beginning. This is God’s surprise for his faithful people. Rejoice! Hidden within your life is a seed of resurrection, an offer of life ready to be awakened "
So, this night, when the light overcomes the darkness, "calls us to proclaim: the heartbeat of the Risen Lord. Christ is alive! "
And so " I ask you to go back with them to the city. Let us all retrace our steps and change the look on our faces. Let us go back with them to tell the news in all those places where the grave seems to have the final word, where death seems the only way out. Let us go back to proclaim, to share, to reveal that it is true: the Lord is alive! He is living and he wants to rise again in all those faces that have buried hope, buried dreams, buried dignity. If we cannot let the Spirit lead us on this road then – he warns - we are not Christians."
The Pope urges in conclusion: "Let us go, then. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by this new dawn and by the newness that Christ alone can give. May we allow his tenderness and his love to guide our steps. May we allow the beating of his heart to quicken our faintness of heart "
In this Holy Saturday, the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella has sent a message of Easter greetings to the Pope: "Looking forward to welcoming you soon at the Quirinale, I renew the expression of my feelings of friendship and deep consideration for your high apostolic mission, along with the Ester wishes coming from all Italians." Mattarella thanked Francis "for the pastoral care reserved to Italy, shown most recently by his visits to Milan, Carpi and Mirandola."