“Christ is Risen; he truly is risen!”
Pope Francis spoke these words to an audience of over 100,000 in St. Peter’s Square on the morning of Easter Sunday, 2023, encouraging the faithful to believe in the message St. Mary Magdalene spoke to the Apostles on that first Easter Sunday: “I have seen the Lord.”
The Holy Father’s annual Easter Urbi et Orbi blessing reminded listeners of the joyous hope that Christ’s resurrection brings to the world and urged them to rediscover the joy of serving the Lord.
A significant theme of his message was the need to “make haste” to proclaim the Gospel message, and the Holy Father used this phrase multiple times.
“The Gospels speak of the haste with which, on the morning of Easter, the women ‘ran to tell the disciples (Mt 28:8). Mary Magdalene then ‘ran and went to Simon Peter’ (Jn 20:2).
“Let us make haste to surmount our conflicts and divisions, and to open our hearts to those in greatest need. Let us hasten to pursue paths of peace and fraternity,” Pope Francis said.
His words echo the beautiful passages found in Song of Solomon, “Make haste, my beloved.” (Song of Solomon 8:14) This is a reminder that if we truly love the One whose Resurrection we proclaim, we will be overcome with a joy that will make it impossible for us to keep silent.
At Mass the day after Easter, my priest said something rather poignant: “You know, people aren’t good at keeping secrets. So, if they still believed that Jesus never really did rise from the dead and that His body was hidden somewhere, don’t you think that would be revealed by now?”
Then he went on to say that we as joy-filled Christians keep the wrong sort of secrets.
“How many of you shared the joy of Easter at work today? Did you go out today after celebrating Easter Sunday and tell everyone you saw about Jesus rising from the dead? We are called to share our faith with others, to tell people about the truth of the Resurrection, not to keep it to ourselves.”
Perhaps it was easier for the first disciples of Christ to rush out so quickly and spread the Good News of His Resurrection; after all, they knew Him personally and loved Him. His death was painful and devastating to them. I have lived with the pain of my father’s death for over 25 years, and though I’ve spoken of him often to my children, they never knew him; so, there is no way they can ever fully understand what it feels like to grieve for him.
The challenge for modern-day Christians, then, is to find within our hearts a love for Jesus that reaches down deeply and heals something within us, compelling us to speak of our Beloved with everyone we encounter.
Pope Francis also spoke of our need to share our love and support with the suffering during this holy season.
He greeted the sick, the poor, and the elderly, offering consolation in the midst of suffering. He invited all to rejoice in the realization that the “Lord has built a bridge to life” in defeating death, making the celebration of Easter “the most important and beautiful day of history.”
Praying for peace for the “beloved Ukrainian people,” and those of Russia, Pope Francis offered petitions to the Lord to “comfort the wounded and all who have lost loved ones due to war.” He called for an end to war worldwide and prayed for a renewal of dialogue between Israel and Palestine; also, for Lebanon, as it struggles to regain stability.
Pope Francis offered prayers for refugees, deportees, political prisoners and migrants, the vulnerable, as well as victims of hunger, poverty, human trafficking, the drug trade and slavery.
May we continue to remember that Christ’s rising from the dead offers hope to the weary and that we, as His followers, are called to continue His work on earth and share His love and hope with others.
Image Credit: Vatican Media.
Kristi McCabe is an award-winning freelance writer, Catechist, a former teacher and editor who lives with her family in Owensboro, Kentucky. As an adoptive mother of four and an adoptee herself, Kristi is an avid supporter of pro-life ministries. She is active in her local parish and has served as Eucharistic minister and in various children's ministries.