Pope: hope can shed the “light of the Risen Lord on our problems” and defeat "darkness and fear"

During Easter vigil, Francis said that Christians are called “to awaken and resurrect hope in hearts burdened by sadness, in those who struggle to find meaning in life”. The ambassador of South Korea to Italy, Yong-Joon Lee, and his wife Hee Kim are among the twelve who were baptised. Their counterparts to the Holy See act as godparents.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis on Saturday evening led the Easter Vigil in St Peter’s Basilica, with the baptism of eight women and four men from Italy, Albania, Cameroon, Korea, India and China. The latter included the South Korean Ambassador Yong-Joon Lee, and his wife, Hee Kim, with their counterparts at the Holy See acting as godparents.

In his homily, the pope said that the “hope [that] does not disappoint”, and the certainty of Resurrection must “shed the light of the Risen Lord upon our problems,” which “We see and will continue to see [. . .] both within and without” us. For him, we should “not allow darkness and fear [. . .] distract us and control us; we must cry out to them: the Lord ‘is not here, but has risen!’”

Hope, he noted, is what prompted Peter, after the story of the women, to go to Jesus' tomb. “He did not remain sedentary, in thought; he did not stay at home as the others did. He did not succumb to the sombre atmosphere of those days, nor was he overwhelmed by his doubts. He was not consumed by remorse, fear or the continuous gossip that leads nowhere. He was looking for Jesus, not himself. He preferred the path of encounter and trust.

“The women too, who had gone out early in the morning to perform a work of mercy, taking the perfumed ointments to the tomb, had the same experience. They were “frightened and bowed their faces”, and yet they were deeply affected by the words of the angel: ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’

“We, like Peter and the women, cannot discover life by being sad, bereft of hope. Let us not stay imprisoned within ourselves, but let us break open our sealed tombs to the Lord so that he may enter and grant us life. Let us give him the stones of our rancour and the boulders of our past, those heavy burdens of our weaknesses and falls. Christ wants to come and take us by the hand to bring us out of our anguish. This is the first stone to be moved aside this night: the lack of hope which imprisons us within ourselves. May the Lord free us from this trap, from being Christians without hope, who live as if the Lord were not risen, as if our problems were the centre of our lives.”

The words of the angel who announced the Resurrection are “the foundation of our hope, which is not mere optimism, nor a psychological attitude or desire to be courageous. Christian hope is a gift that God gives us if we come out of ourselves and open our hearts to him.

“The Paraclete does not make everything look appealing. He does not remove evil with a magic wand. But he pours into us the vitality of life, which is not the absence of problems, but the certainty of being loved and always forgiven by Christ, who for us has conquered sin, death and fear. Today is the celebration of our hope, the celebration of this truth: nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from his love (cf. Rom 8:39).”

Strengthened by such certainty, Christians are called "to awaken and resurrect hope in hearts burdened by sadness, in those who struggle to find meaning in life. [. . .]. However, we must not proclaim ourselves,” but “must announce the Risen One by our lives and by our love; otherwise we will be only an international organization full of followers and good rules, yet incapable of offering the hope for which the world longs.”

Such hope must be nurtured by remembering God’s works, “the history of his love” and faithfulness towards humanity. “Let us not forget his words and his works, otherwise we will lose hope. Let us instead remember the Lord, his goodness and his life-giving words which have touched us. Let us remember them and make them ours, to be sentinels of the morning who know how to help others see the signs of the Risen Lord.

“Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is risen! Let us open our hearts to hope and go forth. May the memory of his works and his words be the bright star which directs our steps in the ways of faith towards the Easter that will have no end.”