At the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday, Pope Francis said the announcement of Christ’s resurrection was the greatest message in history, one that broke the silence of his death and gave us hope in the dark.
The hours following Christ’s passion “are the hours when the disciple stands speechless in pain at the death of Jesus. What words can be spoken at such a moment?” the Pope said March 31.
This “silent night” is the same night we, his disciples, experience today, he continued, but amid this silence comes “the greatest message that history has every heard: ‘He is not here, for he has been raised.’”
The Pope’s Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica was preceded by the blessing of the new fire in the atrium and the blessing of the paschal candle. The Pope then processed into the dark church carrying the lit candle to signify the light of Christ coming to dispel the darkness.
Just like the disciples found themselves in darkness after Christ’s passion and death, we too “felt an oppressive silence at the death of the Lord, a silence with which each of us can identify, a silence that penetrates to the depths of the heart of every disciple, who stands wordless before the cross,” he said.
But amid this silence, the message comes: “He is not here… he is risen!” the Pope exclaimed.
“This is the message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete gestures of charity,” he said. “How greatly we need to let our frailty be anointed by this experience! How greatly we need to let our faith be revived!”
The Pope emphasized that the words, “do not be afraid… for he has been raised,” should affect even how we deal with the events of our daily lives, including “our deepest convictions and certainties.”
“The empty tomb should challenge us and rally our spirits,” he stated.
Francis noted that to participate in the celebration of Easter is to allow Christ to give us hope, triumphing over our fears and anything which paralyzes us and keeps us from acting.
In his resurrection, Christ is inviting us to participate in his message of life. “Do we want to share in this message of life,” the Pope asked, “or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?”
“He is not here… he is raised! And he awaits you in Galilee. He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and he says to you: Do not be afraid, follow me.”
Following the homily, Pope Francis administered the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – to eight people: four from Italy, one from Albania, one from Peru, one from Nigeria, and one, Nathan Potter, from the United States.
The Pope will celebrate the Mass of Easter Day on Sunday morning in St. Peter’s Square, followed by the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.