Pope Francis celebrated the Easter Vigil at the Altar of the Chair. “Going to Galilee” means to be able to “always start over”. “In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the Risen Lord as he invites us to begin anew and never lose hope.” “[F]aith is not an album of past memories; Jesus is not outdated.” Galilee is “the setting of daily life [. . .] Jesus, the Risen Lord, loves us without limits and is there at every moment of our lives.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him” are words from the Gospel of the Easter night liturgy that Pope Francis put at the centre of the homily he gave during the Easter Vigil.
Due to the anti-COVID regulations, the rite was celebrated at the foot of the Altar of Confession (ceremony of the fire) and then at the Altar of the Chair. Except for the Pope, all the celebrants, acolytes, and altar servers wore masks; about 200 faithful were present staying at the proper social distance. Breaking with tradition, no adult baptisms took place.
After the biblical readings, and the proclamation of the Gospel (Mark 16: 1-7), the Pope urged everyone to welcome “the message of Easter. Let us go to Galilee, where the Risen Lord has gone ahead of us. Yet what does it mean ‘to go to Galilee’?
“To go to Galilee means, first, to begin anew. For the disciples it meant going back to the place where the Lord first sought them out and called them to follow him. [. . .] He says to them: “Let us start over from where we began. Let us begin anew. I want you to be with me again, in spite of everything”. In this Galilee, we learn to be amazed by the Lord’s infinite love, which opens new trails along the path of our defeats.
“This is the first Easter message that I would offer you: it is always possible to begin anew, because there is a new life that God can awaken in us in spite of all our failures. [. . .] In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the Risen Lord as he invites us to begin anew and never lose hope.
“Going to Galilee also means setting out on new paths. It means walking away from the tomb. [. . .] Many people experience such a “faith of memories”, as if Jesus were someone from the past, an old friend from their youth who is now far distant, an event that took place long ago, when they attended catechism as a child. A faith made up of habits, things from the past, lovely childhood memories, but no longer a faith that moves me, or challenges me. Going to Galilee, on the other hand, means realizing that faith, if it is to be alive, must get back on the road. It must daily renew the first steps of the journey, the amazement of the first encounter.”
“This, then, is the second message of Easter: faith is not an album of past memories; Jesus is not outdated. He is alive here and now. He walks beside you each day, in every situation you are experiencing, in every trial you have to endure, in your deepest hopes and dreams. He opens new doors when you least expect it, he urges you not to indulge in nostalgia for the past or cynicism about the present. Even if you feel that all is lost, let yourself be open to amazement at the newness Jesus brings: he will surely surprise you.
“Going to Galilee also means going to the peripheries. Galilee was an outpost: the people living in that diverse and disparate region were those farthest from the ritual purity of Jerusalem. Yet that is where Jesus began his mission. There he brought his message to those struggling to live from day to day, the excluded, the vulnerable and the poor.”
The Galilee is where everyday life is set. “And this is the third message of Easter: Jesus, the Risen Lord, loves us without limits and is there at every moment of our lives. Having made himself present in the heart of our world, he invites us to overcome barriers, banish prejudices and draw near to those around us every day in order to rediscover the grace of everyday life. Let us recognize him here in our Galilees, in everyday life. With him, life will change. For beyond all defeats, evil and violence, beyond all suffering and death, the Risen One lives and guides history.
“Dear brother, dear sister: if on this night you are experiencing an hour of darkness, a day that has not yet dawned, a light dimmed or a dream shattered, open your heart with amazement to the message of Easter: “Do not be afraid, he has risen! He awaits you in Galilee”. Your expectations will not remain unfulfilled, your tears will be dried, your fears will be replaced by hope. For the Lord goes ahead of you, he walks before you. And, with him, life begins anew.”