By FORMER SENATOR ATTY. JOEY D. LINA
Amid the darkness afflicting the world suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, so much hope can be gleaned from this year’s Easter message of Pope Francis.
“The Risen Lord is also the Crucified One … In his glorious body he bears indelible wounds: wounds that have become windows of hope. Let us turn our gaze to him, that he may heal the wounds of an afflicted humanity,” the Pope told the faithful who watched online and on TV the Urbi et Orbi blessing to the city of Rome and to the world on Easter Sunday.
As Easter ushers great hope through the Risen Christ, the faithful are strengthened in the conviction that Christianity is anchored on the belief that good shall ultimately triumph over evil, that light always extinguishes darkness.
“Like a new flame this Good News springs up in the night — the night of a world already faced with epochal challenges and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family,” Pope Francis said. “In this night, the Church’s voice rings out: Christ, my hope, is risen!”
He said “this is a different ‘contagion,’ a message transmitted from heart to heart, for every human heart awaits this Good News. It is the contagion of hope: Christ, my hope, is risen! This is no magic formula that makes problems vanish. No, the resurrection of Christ is not that. Instead, it is the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that does not ‘by-pass’ suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good – this is the unique hallmark of the power of God.”
Pope Francis also stressed the message of hope during the livestreamed Easter Vigil Mass on Black Saturday when he said that with Christ rising from the dead, we “acquire a fundamental right that can never be taken away from us — the right to hope.” He stressed that such is not “mere optimism” or a “pat on the back” but is “a new and living hope that comes from God.”
He said “the silence of the tomb on Saturday and the despair of the disciples after Jesus’ death is like the present global health crisis.”
Referring to the women in the Gospel reading, the Pope said: “They, like us, had before their eyes the drama of suffering, of an unexpected tragedy that happened all too suddenly. They have seen death and it weighed on their hearts. Pain was mixed with fear. Would they suffer the same fate as the Master? There too was fear about the future.”
“For them, as for us, it was the darkest hour,” Pope Francis said. But when the women arrived at Jesus’ tomb and saw it already opened, the angel who appeared told them: Do not be afraid. “This is the message of hope,” the Pontiff said. “It is addressed to us today… Even if in your heart you have buried hope, do not give up. God is greater. Darkness and death do not have the last word. Be strong, for with God, nothing is lost!”
In his Urbi et Orbi message, the Pope acknowledged that for many people, “this is an Easter of solitude lived amid the sorrow and hardship that the pandemic is causing, from physical suffering to economic difficulties… a time of worry about an uncertain future, about jobs that are at risk and about other consequences of the current crisis.”
He encouraged leaders “to work actively for the common good, to provide the means and resources needed to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and, when circumstances allow, assist them in resuming their normal daily activities.”
“This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic. May the risen Jesus grant hope to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless,” Pope Francis said.
“Indifference, self-centeredness, division, and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time… They seem to prevail when fear and death overwhelm us, that is, when we do not let the Lord Jesus triumph in our hearts and lives. May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of his glorious day, a day that knows no end,” he said.
With the uplifting message of Pope Francis about our Risen Lord, there is much light and hope to enable us to triumph over the pandemic. Happy Easter to all!
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