Urbi et Orbi address by Pope Francis

The following article was originally printed in the parish bulletin on April 7, 2013

We have come to the Second Sunday of Easter, which is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope John Paul II chose to promote in an intense way a devotion that was made known to the world by St. Faustina Kowalska. This devotion to the mercy of Jesus Christ (the “Divine Mercy”) is observed every day of the year, but especially on this Sunday, when we hear the Gospel reading about Jesus showing his hands and side to St. Thomas and the other apostles. This Sunday afternoon at our parish, our observance of the Divine Mercy devotion will begin at 1:30 with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and will include the Divine Mercy chaplet, the rosary, and benediction. I will also hear some confessions, and we will conclude at 3:45 this afternoon.

Next Sunday, April 14 will be a day for our 28 Confirmation candidates to prepare to receive the sacrament of Confirmation at the Cathedral of St. Paul at 2:00 the following Sunday. At 9:00 Mass on the 14th we will formally “send” the candidates to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Later they will hear guest speaker David Rinaldi and have lunch. Then at 1:00 we will have a penance service so that they can go to confession before they receive what for them will be the third and final sacrament of initiation, perfecting what began on the day they were baptized.

The Season of Easter is also the time for First Communion, when second graders, having already been sacramentally reconciled to God, receive the Eucharist for the first time. All of the Sunday Masses on April 21 and its vigil, as well as May 5 and its vigil, will be First Communion Masses in our parish. May God bless the children who are about to receive this great sacrament!

On Easter Sunday Pope Francis gave the traditional Urbi et Orbi address (“To the City and to the World”) to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square. I would like to reprint much of what he said.

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter!  Happy Easter!

What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons …

Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil!  Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious! The mercy of God always triumphs!

We too, like the women who were Jesus’ disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. The love God can do this!

This same love for which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell – to the abyss of separation from God – this same merciful love has flooded with light the dead body of Jesus, has transfigured it, has made it pass into eternal life.  Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and he entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.

This is what Easter is: it is the exodus, the passage of human beings from slavery to sin and evil to the freedom of love and goodness.  Because God is life, life alone, and we are his glory: the living man (cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, 4,20,5-7).

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ died and rose once for all, and for everyone, but the power of the Resurrection, this passover from slavery to evil to the freedom of goodness, must be accomplished in every age, in our concrete existence, in our everyday lives. How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross!  Above all, the desert within, when we have no love for God or neighbour, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us.  God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14).

So this is the invitation which I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection!  Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.

And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace.  Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world. [The Holy Father names many different lands that are especially in need of peace.]

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; human trafficking is 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.

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