The circumstances we are living show us how fragile our existence is, but Christ’s resurrection gives us the certainty that life does not finish: homily by Francesco during the Easter Vigil in the house of formation.

Exult, let the hosts of heaven, exult, let Angel ministers of God exult, Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice (Easter Praeconium). Let us allow ourselves to be guided by the words of the Praeconium to contemplate the reasons for our joy and hope.

This is the proclamation that has sounded for two thousand years. He is not here; he has risen. These are the words those women heard that morning. Christ is risen from the dead and will never die again, death has no power over him anymore, says St. Paul to all Christians. And so this evening we say again to ourselves and to the whole world: Christ is alive. He is alive now and forever. It is not an idea, an undertaking, a belief. It is not something distant because of time and space. It is a person who is alive now. The flame from the candle is a sign of the living light which is Christ, who shines with a light that will never be extinguished, because he is alive now, and lives for God.

Sin and death no longer have power. Today this announcement showers hope on the whole drama that surrounds us. Infected Men and women who are left to die alone, sometimes in inhumane conditions. Alone, because no one is with them (besides some doctors and nurses who move the heart of God). Unfortunately, to contain the contagion, their bodies are treated without the dignity and sacredness they deserve, filled with chlorine immediately after their death and carried to be cremated. What is life, when its end is so miserable? We have the need to know, and the resurrection of Christ tells us that life does not finish. Christ lives, with his body, transfigured. And so also our whole person, with our body, is called to enter, transfigured, in eternity. Nothing has been taken away from that cremated body. Every caress received, every pain, each thing seen, every perfume smelt, everything can be saved, everything is destined to a life that does not end. And like physical death, the risen Christ also puts an end to another death, much more terrible and obscure: sin. We are no longer slaves to sin, says St. Paul. And even if we feel—as we are—still very sinful, not very free, today we hear of a new liberation being announced. Our sin is still possible, but it is no longer our destiny, evil is no longer the word that defines our life. A light has begun to shine in the shadows, and so, even if it is dark, it is no longer night. When Christ rose the disciples were still in doubt, in fear, in sin. But he was risen and preceded them in Galilea. A new life had already begun, a light, like the Pasqual candle, was already shining in the shadows. With the resurrection of Christ a life stronger than evil is taking place. Let’s follow him where he precedes us, on the luminous new path that he has begun.

Because you are alive, Christ, and because you have opened up a new life, now, today, we can offer our lives to you, as a sacrifice of praise, as an act of constant gratitude. The light of your resurrection becomes our light, the flame of our offering, like the candles we have lit from the flame of the Pasqual candle. Christ was resurrected, so that we too might live a new life, continues St. Paul. This new life that you gave us is a life with you, behind you, and for you. As it happened to those women, that morning: And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet and adored him. We can also move towards him, embrace and adore him, because Christ is alive. This new life, is the life in which it is possible to love Christ, and this is what fills us with happiness: it is an anticipation of the life that awaits us, when we will be able to embrace and adore Christ without the fragility of sin, without the hold of death.

Let us ask that the memory of the risen Christ never leave us; so that we might live in his light every day that is given; so that our life may be offered to God, like the light of this Paschal candle. We ask this through the words of the Praeconium: Receive this flame as a pleasing fragrance, and let it mingle with the lights of heaven. May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who, coming back from death’s domain, has shed his peaceful light on humanity, and lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

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