May this Easter be for each of you, dear brothers and sisters, and in particular for the sick and the poor, the elderly and those experiencing moments of trial and weariness, a passage from affliction to consolation. We are not alone: Jesus, the Living One, is with us, forever. Let the Church and the world rejoice, for today our hopes no longer come up against the wall of death, for the Lord has built us a bridge to life. Yes, brothers and sisters, at Easter the destiny of the world was changed, and on this day, which also coincides with the most probable date of Christ’s resurrection, we can rejoice to celebrate, by pure grace, the most important and beautiful day of history.
“Christ is risen; he is truly risen!” In this traditional proclamation of the Churches of the East: Christòs anesti! That word “truly” reminds us that our hope is not an illusion, but the truth! And that, in the wake of Easter, humanity’s journey, now marked by hope, advances all the more readily. The first witnesses of the resurrection show this by their example. 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), while John and Peter himself then “ran together” (cf. v. 4) to the place where Jesus had been buried. Later, on the evening of Easter, after meeting the Risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, two disciples “set out without delay” (cf. Lk 24:33) and traveled several miles, uphill and in the dark, spurred on by the irrepressible joy of Easter that burned in their hearts (cf. v. 32). The same joy that led Peter, on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, after catching sight of the risen Jesus, to leave the boat with the others, to throw himself immediately into the water and to swim quickly towards him (cf. Jn 21:7). At Easter, then, the journey quickens and becomes a race, since humanity now sees the goal of its journey, sees the meaning of its destiny, Jesus Christ, and is called to make haste to meet him, who is the hope of the world.
May we too make haste to progress on a journey of reciprocal trust: trust among individuals, peoples and nations. May we allow ourselves to experience amazement at the joyful proclamation of Easter, at the light that illumines the darkness and the gloom in which, all too often, our world finds itself enveloped.
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. Let us rejoice at the concrete signs of hope that reach us from so many countries, beginning with those that offer assistance and welcome to all fleeing from war and poverty.
At the same time, along this journey we also encounter many stumbling stones, which make it more difficult and demanding to hasten towards the Risen Lord. To him, then, let us make our prayer: Lord, help us to run to meet you! Help us to open our hearts!
Help the beloved Ukrainian people on their journey towards peace, and shed the light of Easter upon the people of Russia. Comfort the wounded and all those who have lost loved ones because of the war, and grant that prisoners may return safe and sound to their families. Open the hearts of the entire international community to strive to end this war and all conflict and bloodshed in our world, beginning with Syria, which still awaits peace. Strengthen all those affected by the violent earthquake in Turkey and in Syria itself. Let us pray for all those who have lost family and friends, and for those left homeless. May they receive consolation from God and assistance from the family of nations.
On this day, Lord, we entrust to you the city of Jerusalem, the first witness of your resurrection. May there be a resumption of dialogue, in a climate of trust and reciprocal respect, between Israelis and Palestinians, so that peace may reign in the Holy City and in the entire region.
Lord, aid Lebanon, which still seeks stability and unity, so that divisions may be overcome and all citizens cooperate for the common good of the country.