Pope: only the Risen Jesus can announce peace to us today
Francis' urbi et orbi message "in this Easter of war". An appeal for tormented Ukraine: "Stop flexing muscles while people are suffering ". A look at the world's other wounds, from Jerusalem to forgotten Yemen. Reconciliation for Myanmar plagued by hatred and violence and for Afghanistan in the throes of a humanitarian crisis.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Only Jesus has the right today to announce peace to us. He alone, because he bears our wounds". In an Easter deeply marked by the war in Ukraine, after the silence of the Way of the Cross on Good Friday, Pope Francis entrusted the words of his urbi et orbi message delivered from the loggia of blessings in the Vatican Basilica to the Risen Lord.
He did so after the Mass celebrated on the parvis awash with Easter flowers in front of St Peter's Square, once packed with the faithful up to the middle of Via della Conciliazione after two years of pandemic. After only attending and pronouncing the homily last night in the vigil presided over by the Dean of the Sacred College, Card. Giovanni Battista Re, today the Pontiff presided over the rite and also drove through the entire square to greet the faithful at length.
But the festive atmosphere cannot ignore the news of death and destruction that continues to arrive from Ukraine. And so the Pope himself openly questioned at the beginning of his message to the world: can we really believe that Jesus is risen "that he has truly conquered death. Is this an illusion? A figment of our imagination?"
Pope Francis recalls the "incredulous looks of the disciples" before Jesus, the Crucified One who is risen: "He stands in the midst of those who mourned him, locked behind closed doors and full of fear and anguish. to say "Peace be with you". "Our eyes, too, are incredulous on this Easter of war. We have seen all too much blood, all too much violence. Our hearts, too, have been filled with fear and anguish, as so many of our brothers and sisters have had to lock themselves away in order to be safe from bombing. We struggle to believe that Jesus is truly risen, that he has truly triumphed over death."
"No, it is not an illusion". For the announcement of this Easter he chose the words so dear to the Christian East: "Christ is risen! He is truly risen!". "ToToday, more than ever, we need him, at the end of a Lent that has seemed endless". He recalled the two years of the pandemic with its heavy marks: "It was time to come out of the tunnel together," he commented bitterly, "It was time to come out of the tunnel together, hand in hand, pooling our strengths and resources... Instead, we are showing that we still have within us the spirit of Cain, who saw Abel not as a brother, but as a rival, and thought about how to eliminate him. This is why "we need the Risen Crucified One to believe in the victory of love, to hope for reconciliation".
Jesus announces peace to us - continues Francis - by bringing "our wounds. His wounds are indeed ours, for two reasons. They are ours because we inflicted them upon him by our sins, by our hardness of heart, by our fratricidal hatred. They are also ours because he bore them for our sake; he did not cancel them from his glorified body; he chose to keep them, to bear them forever. They are the indelible seal of his love for us, a perennial act of intercession, so that the heavenly Father, in seeing them, will have mercy upon us and upon the whole world. The wounds on the body of the risen Jesus are the sign of the battle he fought and won for us, won with the weapons of love, so that we might have peace and remain in peace".
And so it is up to us to let this peace enter "into our lives, into our homes, into our countries". "Let there be peace for the tormented Ukraine, so sorely tried by the violence and destruction of the cruel and senseless war into which it has been dragged. Let peace be chosen. Let us stop flexing our muscles while people are suffering. Please, let us not become accustomed to war, let us all commit ourselves to clamouring for peace, from the balconies and in the streets. Let those in charge of nations listen to the people's cry for peace. He quoted, repeating twice, the question written in 1955 by Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell in their manifesto against nuclear war: "Will we put an end to mankind, or will mankind renounce war?".
"I hold in my heart ," the pontiff added, "all the many Ukrainian victims, the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, the divided families, the elderly left to themselves, the lives broken and the cities razed to the ground. I see the faces of the orphaned children fleeing from the war. As we look at them, we cannot help but hear their cry of pain, along with that of all those other children who suffer throughout our world: those dying of hunger or lack of medical care, those who are victims of abuse and violence, and those denied the right to be born".
He praised the many families and communities that are welcoming refugees from Ukraine and hoped that 'these numerous acts of charity will become a blessing for our societies, sometimes degraded by so much selfishness and individualism, and help make them welcoming to all'. The conflict in the heart of Europe is not the only one that is staining the world with blood. Pope Francis once again invokes peace for Jerusalem and for those who love it "Christians, Jews and Muslims": "Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. May Israelis, Palestinians and all who dwell in the Holy City, together with the pilgrims, experience the beauty of peace, dwell in fraternity and enjoy free access to the Holy Places in mutual respect for the rights of each".
"But - he recalls - how thirsty for peace and reconciliation the peoples of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and the Christian communities throughout the Middle East are." He invoked it for Libya and for Yemen "which is suffering from a conflict forgotten by all, with continuous victims: may the truce signed in recent days restore hope to the population".
"We ask the risen Lord for the gift of reconciliation for Myanmar, where a dramatic scenario of hatred and violence persists, and for Afghanistan, where dangerous social tensions are not easing and a tragic humanitarian crisis is bringing great suffering to its people". And then Africa: "stop the exploitation of which it is a victim, the haemorrhaging brought about by terrorist attacks, particularly in the Sahel area", the crisis in Ethiopia, the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Not forgetting Latin America, where the pandemic has worsened social conditions, "exacerbated by crime, corruption and drug trafficking", and the path to reconciliation with Canada's indigenous peoples.
Francis concludes, "Faced with the continuing signs of war, as well as the many painful setbacks to life, Jesus Christ, the victor over sin, fear and death, exhorts us not to surrender to evil and violence. May we be won over by the peace of Christ! Peace is possible; peace is a duty; peace is everyone’s primary responsibility! ".