Dear brothers and sisters, happy Easter!
Jesus, the Crucified, is risen! He comes among those who mourn him, shut up in a house, filled with fear and anguish. He comes among them and says, “Peace be with you! (Jn 20:19). He shows the wounds on his hands and feet, the wound on his side: he is not a ghost, he is precisely the same Jesus who died on the cross and who was laid in the tomb. In front of the disbelieving eyes of the disciples, he repeats: “Peace be with you! (v. 21).
Our eyes are also incredulous, on this Easter of war. We have seen too much blood, too much violence. Our hearts were also filled with fear and anguish, while many of our brothers and sisters had to lock themselves up to defend themselves against the bombs. We find it hard to believe that Jesus was really resurrected, that he really conquered death. Could it be an illusion? A figment of our imagination?
No, it’s not an illusion! Today more than ever resounds the Easter proclamation so dear to the Christian East: “Christ is risen! He really came back to life ! “. Today more than ever we need him, at the end of a Lent which seems to have no end. We have two years of pandemic behind us, which have left deep scars. It was time to come out of the tunnel together, hand in hand, gathering our strength and our resources… And instead, we demonstrate that in us there is not yet the spirit of Jesus, there is still the spirit of Cain, who looks at Abel not as a brother, but as a rival, and thinks of how to eliminate him. We need the Risen Crucified to believe in the victory of love, to hope for reconciliation. Today more than ever we need him to come among us and say to us again: “Peace be with you! “.
He alone can do it. He alone has the right to announce peace to us today. Jesus alone, because he bears the wounds, our wounds. His wounds are twice ours: ours because they were done to him by us, by our sins, by our hardness of heart, by our fratricidal hatred; and ours because he bears them for us, he did not erase them from his glorious Body, he wanted to keep them within him forever. They are an indelible seal of his love for us, a perpetual intercession so that the heavenly Father may see them and have mercy on us and on the whole world. The wounds in the Body of the risen Jesus are the sign of the struggle he waged and won for us, with the weapons of love, so that we might have peace, be at peace, live in peace.
Looking at these glorious wounds, our incredulous eyes open, our hardened hearts open and let in the Easter proclamation: “Peace be with you! “.
Brothers and sisters, let the peace of Christ enter our lives, our homes, our countries!
May there be peace for the martyred Ukraine, so hard-hit by the violence and the destruction of the cruel and senseless war into which it was drawn. May a new dawn of hope soon rise on this terrible night of suffering and death! Let us choose peace. Stop flexing muscles while people suffer. Please, please: let’s not get used to war, let’s all commit to asking for peace, from the balconies and in the streets! Peace ! May those who have the responsibility of the Nations hear the cry of peace of the people. Let them hear that disturbing question posed by scientists almost seventy years ago: “Are we going to end the human race, or will humanity be able to renounce war?” » (Russell–Einstein ManifestoJuly 9, 1955).
I carry in my heart all the many Ukrainian victims, the millions of refugees and internally displaced people, the families divided, the elderly left alone, the lives shattered and the cities razed to the ground. I have in my eyes the look of children who have become orphans and fleeing from war. Looking at them, we cannot fail to hear their cry of pain, along with that of the many other children who suffer all over the world: those who die of hunger or lack of care, those who are victims of abuse and violence and those who have been deprived of the right to be born.
In the pain of war, there are also encouraging signs, such as the open doors of many families and communities that welcome migrants and refugees throughout Europe. May these numerous acts of charity become a blessing for our societies, sometimes degraded by so much selfishness and individualism, and may they contribute to making them welcoming for all.
May the conflict in Europe also make us more aware of other situations of tension, suffering and pain, which affect too many regions of the world and which we neither can nor want to forget.
May there be peace for the Middle East, torn apart by years of division and conflict. On this glorious day, let us ask for peace for Jerusalem and peace for those who love her (cf. Ps 121 ), Christians, Jews and Muslims. May Israelis, Palestinians and all the inhabitants of the Holy City, together with the pilgrims, experience the beauty of peace, live in brotherhood and freely access the Holy Places in mutual respect for the rights of each.
May there be peace and reconciliation for the peoples of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and in particular for all the Christian communities living in the Middle East.
May there be peace also for Libya, so that it may find stability after years of tension, and for Yemen, which is suffering from a conflict forgotten by all, with new victims constantly: may the truce signed in recent days can give hope to the population.
Let us ask the Risen Lord for the gift of reconciliation for Myanmar, where a dramatic scenario of hatred and violence continues, and for Afghanistan, where dangerous social tensions are not easing and where a dramatic humanitarian crisis is in the making to martyrize the population.
May there be peace for the entire African continent, so that the exploitation of which it is the victim and the haemorrhage caused by terrorist attacks – in particular in the Sahel zone – cease and that it finds concrete support in the brotherhood of peoples. May Ethiopia, struck by a serious humanitarian crisis, find the path of dialogue and reconciliation again, and may the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo cease. May there be no lack of prayer and solidarity for the populations of eastern South Africa, affected by devastating floods.
May the risen Christ accompany and assist the peoples of Latin America, who in some cases have seen their social conditions worsen in these difficult times of the pandemic, also exacerbated by cases of crime, violence, corruption and trafficking in dope.
Let us ask the risen Lord to accompany the journey of reconciliation that the Catholic Church of Canada is carrying out with the indigenous peoples. May the Spirit of the risen Christ heal the wounds of the past and dispose hearts in search of truth and brotherhood.
Dear brothers and sisters, each war carries with it consequences that involve all of humanity: from bereavement to the tragedy of the refugees, to the economic and food crisis of which we can already see the harbingers. Faced with the persistent signs of war, like the many and painful defeats of life, Christ, victor over sin, fear and death, exhorts us not to abandon ourselves to evil and violence. Brothers and sisters, let us be conquered by the peace of Christ! Peace is possible, peace is a duty, peace is everyone’s primary responsibility!