Monday, 01 April 2013 01:14
(Vatican Radio) “Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world”: Peace for the people of Syria, torn apart by bloodshed, for the Middle East and Iraq; Peace in Africa, for Mali, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic; Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean Peninsula .Emer McCarthy reports Listen:
In the first Urbi et Orbi message of his pontificate this Easter Sunday, Pope Francis invited people of all ages, from all walks of life to “ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace”.
Sunday morning St Peter’s Square was transformed into an open air garden by a multitude of flowers and a mercifully warm sun after a night of storms. Despite the threat of more rain, the people came in their tens of thousands filling the square and the long boulevard that leads to Bernini’s columns to take part in Pope Francis’ first celebration of Easter Mass.
The mood was of solemn participation until the end of the celebration when the Holy Father made a brief tour of the square, and the multitude exploded in a unanimous cheer. Suddenly the flags of the world were unfurled and banners from parishes and catholic associations greeting the Pope were held on high.
The tour was brief, as the Holy Father entered the basilica to make his way to the central loggia of the hall of blessings from where he delivered his first ever message as Pope to the city of Rome and to the world.
And Pope Francis implored God for Peace.
“Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?
Peace for Africa, still the scene of violent conflicts. In Mali, may unity and stability be restored; in Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the Central African Republic, where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear.
Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.
Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century. Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation”.
The transforming power of the Easter message was also the focus of Pope Francis homily for the Great Easter Vigil, Saturday night. He had appealed to people not to be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives, through Christ’s resurrection.
As the Exultet or Easter Proclamation, broke through the silence of Holy Saturday and the Paschal candle which he blessed and carried illuminated the dark of St Peter’s basilica, the Holy Father invited men and women, believers and those who have fallen away from the to welcome " God’s surprises" in our lives and not be afraid".
Reflecting on the fear of the women who found the empty tomb and the amazement of Peter on hearing the news as recounted in the Gospel, he noted “Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness... and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive!”. He said “Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up: there are no situations which God cannot change, there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him".
On Easter Sunday he concluded: “Dear brothers and sisters, who have come from all over the world to this Square, the heart of Christianity, and all of you joining us via communications media, I renew my wishes for a Happy Easter! Bring to your families and your nations the message of joy of hope and peace that each year is powerfully renewed on this day. May the Risen Lord, who defeated sin and death, support us all especially the weakest and those most in need. Thank you for your presence and the witness of your faith. A thought and a particular thanks for the gift of these beautiful flowers from the Netherlands. I affe...