Music For Hope - Live From Duomo di Milano

Christians are called to serve God and neighbour as Jesus

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

In Sunday's Gospel, Jesus speaks to His disciples about the mystery of His Passion, Death, and Resurrection - a teaching, Pope Francis said, that the disciples are not yet able to understand, because their faith "is still immature, and too closely tied to the mentality of the world."

The Pope said that for Peter and the other disciples - and for us too - the Cross is seen as "a 'stumbling block', whereas Jesus considers the 'stumbling block' [to be] escaping the Cross, which would mean avoiding the Father's will." This, the Pope said, is why Jesus rebukes Peter so strongly, saying to him, "Get behind me, Satan!"

Becoming true disciples of Jesus

In the Gospel, Jesus then immediately explains, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

Pope Francis said that in this saying, Jesus "indicates the way of the true disciple, showing two attitudes": renouncing oneself, which means a real conversion; and taking up one's cross, which "is not just a matter of patiently enduring daily tribulations, but of bearing with faith and responsibility that part of toil and suffering that the struggle against evil entails."

Participating in the salvation of the world

Focusing on the latter, the Pope said, "Thus, the task of 'taking up the cross' becomes participating with Christ in the salvation of the world."

Images of the Cross should be a "sign of our desire to be united with Christ through lovingly serving our brothers and sisters, especially the littlest and the weakest," Pope Francis said; adding, "The Cross is the holy sign of God's love and of Jesus's sacrifice, and is not to be reduced to a superstitious object or an ornamental necklace."

Instead, he explained, when we look at a crucifix, we should reflect on the fact that Jesus "has accomplished His mission, giving life, spilling His blood for the forgiveness sins." In order to be His disciples, Pope Francis said, we in turn must "imitate Him, expending our life unreservedly for love of God and neighbour."


Mary's Assumption

Huge step forward for humanity

Pope Francis on Saturday invited Christians to thank and praise God for the good that He has done in our life just as the Virgin did in the Magnificat, which became the source of her joy.

Pope Francis made the exhortation at the midday "Angelus" prayer in Rome's St. Peter's Square, on the day the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven.

The dogma of faith that Pope Pius XII proclaimed on November 1, 1950, asserts that the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory". Pope Francis said that the Assumption shines "as a sign of sure hope and solace to the People of God during its sojourn on earth", as the Second Vatican Council puts it.

Assumption: with God nothing is lost

Addressing a holiday crowd from the window of his studio overlooking the square, the Pope said that in Mary's Assumption into Heaven, we celebrate an infinitely greater conquest than the "giant step for mankind" when man first set foot on the moon. When the lowly Virgin of Nazareth set foot in paradise, body and spirit, he said, it was "the huge leap forward for humanity".

This, the Pope said, gives us hope that "we are precious, destined to rise again". "God does not allow our bodies to vanish into nothing. With God, nothing is lost!"

Mary's lowliness magnifies God goodness

Mary's advice to us, the Holy Father said, lies in her song, the "Magnificat" - "My soul magnifies the Lord". "Mary 'aggrandizes' the Lord: not problems, which she did not lack at the time," the Pope explained. She does not allow herself to be "overwhelmed by difficulties and absorbed by fears". Rather, she puts God as the first greatness of life, which becomes the source of her Magnificat. Her joy is born "not from the absence of problems, which come sooner or later, but from God's presence", because He is great and he looks on the lowly ones. "We," the Pope stressed, "are the weakness of His love."

Mary, the Pope continued, acknowledges that she is small and exalts the "great things" that the Lord has done for her. She is grateful for the gift of life, she is a virgin yet she becomes pregnant, and Elizabeth, too, who was elderly, is expecting a child. The Pope said, "the Lord works wonders with those who are lowly ..., who give ample space to God in their life", for which Mary praises God.

Forgetting the good shrinks the heart

Pope Francis thus invited all to ask ourselves, whether we, like Mary, praise and thank God for the good things He does for us, for His love, forgiveness, tenderness and for giving us His Mother and our brothers and sisters.

"If we forget the good," the Pope warned, "the heart shrinks." "But if, like Mary, we remember the great things that the Lord does, if at least once a day we were to "magnify" Him, then our hearts will expand and our joy will increase.  

Robin Gomes                                                                                                               (source:www.vaticannews.va)

Jesus teaches us to take responsibility for others

Pope Francis

Pope Francis reflected on Jesus' miracle of the multiplication of the loaves

As the sun goes down and those present begin to seek food, Jesus tells His disciples to give them something to eat.

"Jesus wants to use this situation to educate His friends, both then and now, about God's logic: the logic of taking responsibility for others," said Pope Francis.

Power as sign of charity

The Pope added that Jesus didn't leave His disciples alone when they say there are only five loaves and two fishes. He takes the bread, breaks it, and gives it to the disciples for them to distribute.

"With this gesture, Jesus expresses His power; not in a spectacular way but as a sign of charity, of God the Father's generosity toward His weary and needy children."

Pope Francis said Jesus is immersed in people's lives, and that He understands our weaknesses and limits. "He nourishes them with His word and provides plentiful sustenance."

Eucharist and daily bread

Pope Francis went on to say that the multiplication of the loaves has clear Eucharistic overtones.

An important element is the connection between the Eucharistic bread - nourishment for eternal life - and our daily bread - which we require to survive.

"Before offering Himself to the Father as the Bread of salvation, Jesus ensures there is food for those who follow Him and who, in order to be with Him, neglected to make provisions."

The Pope said this shows that there is no opposition between the spiritual and the material.

Compassion, trust, solidarity

He noted that Jesus' compassion and tenderness for the crowd is "the concrete manifestation of the love that cares about people's needs."

The Holy Father urged everyone to draw near to the table of the Eucharist by imitating Jesus' attitude of compassion.

"Compassion is not a purely material sentiment," he said. "True compassion is suffering with, taking upon ourselves the pain of others."

And he encouraged everyone to ask ourselves if we have compassion when we read the news about wars, hunger, or the pandemic. "Do I experience compassion for those people?"

Compassion, he added, is "trust in the provident love of the Father and means courageous sharing."

Journey of fraternity

In conclusion, Pope Francis prayed that Mary might help us along our Christian journey.

"It is the journey of fraternity," he said, "which is essential to face the poverty and suffering of this world - especially in this difficult moment - and which projects us beyond the world itself, because it is a journey that begins with God and returns to God."

source: https://www.vaticannews.va/

'The kingdom of God is within you.' 

26. July. 2020

(...) Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God is like someone who finds a hidden treasure in a field. They sell all they have to buy the field. This implies that they realise and recognise the deep value of what they have discovered. They give all they have to own it. In the gospel the person had to buy the field to get the treasure. The same happens with the person who finds the pearl of great price. They find the pearl, go and sell all they have and buy it. Here's the great thing we need to realise; we already have the treasure, the Kingdom of God; it has already been freely given to us by Jesus; we don't have to go and buy it - it's already ours.

More significantly, as Jesus tells us, 'the kingdom of God is within you.' (Luke 17.20). The kingdom of God is in each of us; all we have to do is look within our daily lives and activities to find and experience it. What price or more importantly, value do we put on the Kingdom of God in our daily lives? Do we do all we can to engage with it and do all we can to promote it? This is described beautifully in the poem 'Bright Field' by the Welsh poet R.S. Thomas; 'I have seen the sun break through to illumine a small field for a while, and gone my way and forgotten it. But that was the pearl of great price, the one field that had the treasure in it. I realise now that I must give all that I have to possess it.'

Unlike those in the gospel, the Kingdom of God will not 'cost' us anything, well not money anyway. But it will cost us something else. It will cost us our personal faith and commitment on a daily basis. Like the mustard seed, the Kingdom of God is sown within us. It is a buried and hidden treasure. It is up to us, with God's help to find and nourish it. We are being invited to look for and dig up this treasure and bring it out into the light of our own lives and the lives of others. Here is the challenge of finding the hidden treasure; the Kingdom of God; once we find it we are called to share it with others, not keep it to ourselves. As we share our treasure with others, it doesn't diminish or become smaller in any way; it grows and becomes even bigger!

This coming week, look for signs of God's Kingdom within yourself and in those around you - it is there, just waiting to be discovered.

- Br Michael Moore OMI  (/oblates.ie)

Small Beginnings

19. July. 2020

The tiny mustard seed and the yeast

Traditionally, the mustard seed is the smallest of seeds, and some would say the most insignificant. I have held them in my hand; they are very small - the size of the head of a pin. It is indeed a miracle that when they are planted that anything, least of all the mustard tree grows. Again, traditionally the mustard tree is actually the biggest of trees! From small beginnings come great and wonderful things. This is closely connected to the image of the yeast and the flour that Jesus speaks of at the end of the gospel. He says the Kingdom of God is like a woman who takes the yeast and mixes it with flour to produce plenty of bread. Flour on its own is simply flour, not bread! The flour needs the active power of the yeast to change and transform into something new - bread.

Why is Jesus drawing our attention the smallest of seeds and yeast? It is very easy for us to ignore or even dismiss that which we believe to be unimportant or insignificant. Yet, these two parables suggest the very opposite. This smallest of seeds, which grows slowly and silently in the depths of the earth becomes the biggest of trees where the birds take shelter and make their home. Yeast, when added to flour is transformed into dough and becomes bread. The yeast transforms the flour from within.

The Kingdom of God exercises its powerful presence from within, not without. It may have small beginnings, but it will increase and grow like the seed and the yeast. Just as the yeast is the 'active ingredient' in the flour, so too, we as followers of Jesus are called and challenged to be the 'active ingredient' in our modern culture and society. Without the seed, there is no mustard tree; without the yeast there is no bread. Without each of us and our efforts, no matter how small, the Kingdom of God will not grow and spread. Today, as followers of Jesus, we are being called to slowly transform the world around us from within. Each of us is called to be actively engaged in bringing the message of the gospel into all areas of life. We are called to be the mustard seed and the yeast!

It would be a mistake to think that it takes big projects and actions to bring about change. The smallest of actions and gestures can have a huge impact on those around us. Remember, it only takes one person to stand up in a theatre or a huge stadium to start a standing ovation of thousands! We can all do something; each of us is capable of bringing about change one small action at a time. Small acts of kindness and generosity, when multiplied by millions, can and will transform our own lives, the lives of those around and indeed the whole world.

If the small mustard seed and the yeast can be powerful agents of change, so can you and I!

- Br Michael Moore OMI

There Was Jesus... THERE IS JESUS

The poor are the builders of the new humanity.'   

Pope Francis


28th June 2020

If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you' solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.'    

 Matthew 10:37-42

Welcoming God would mean an entire life style, a totally unique priority list, an entirely unworldly mindset if we can use that phrase! (...) when it comes to giving priority to God and God's call, nothing can claim precedence. This is the message that the Lord wants to communicate.

Welcoming God would mean prioritising God over everything and all. Sometimes an experience such as what we are facing today, a lockdown or a quarantine, a sickness or a setback, makes us realise how weird our priorities have been! But should we wait for such situations? Are we looking to blame it on something, without really taking stock of our real priorities in life? Welcoming God would mean, rearranging our priorities and looking at God's place in our daily life, yes... our daily life - 

Welcoming God's Message is one of the daily dispositions of welcoming God. It would be hypocritical to SAY that I need God and LIVE as if I don't. I may do things that show others that I need God. I may speak to others about me and my life, giving them an idea that I value God. But if that is not translated into my daily life and my regular choices, I am failing to live a life that is integral. What matters most is not what I feel like or what I keep saying, but what I really live on a daily basis.

Welcoming or Accepting God's message truly means changing my life according to that message; (...)  Welcoming God's message would mean (...) choosing God above all, above my pride, my anger, my hurts, my tendency to settle scores, my wish to see the doom of the other! Yes, it means choosing love, when I say I am ready to welcome God and God's message.

Welcoming God's Messengers, is a disposition of openness and humility - being open to God and God's marvellous and mysterious ways of revealing Godself to me - through persons, events and signs. A new person we come across, a poor person we see suffering, a hapless person we exploited...all these are messengers of God! And being humble is to receive God's message from anyone, even those from whom we least expect it!  (...)

Welcoming God's messengers would truly mean being open minded, being authentic in our relations with all, being forthright in our dealings with anyone, being truthful and honest about our feelings and attitudes, being ready to form them all according to the mind of Christ (...)

If we really give a serious thought to our Christian living today, it could really be a mighty big challenge. A remarkable thinker of the past century, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in his book The Cost of Discipleship, "being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God's will." Is this not what we are repeatedly reminded by our Holy Father today?

Are you ready to Welcome God, to welcome God's message and to welcome God's messengers... in whatever form and whichever way? What would my response be?

Fr Antony Christy, SDB


21st. June. 2020

Do not be afraid... there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.'

Matt. 10


The Eucharist is a powerful sign of love

Generosity that supports the weak, consoles the afflicted, relieves suffering and restores dignity to those stripped of it, is a condition for a fully human life,

In everything you do, remember your end. The 'end' of all our actions can only be love. This is the ultimate goal of our journey, and nothing should distract us from it."

Pope Francis

....by adoring the Eucharist, where this love is present in the Sacrament. Then our heart too, little by little, will become more patient, more generous, more merciful."

Pope Francis

"The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse" Charlie Mackesy


The Feast of the Ascension, tells us that Jesus, although He ascended to Heaven to dwell gloriously at the right hand of the Father, is still and is always among us: this is the source of our strength, our perseverance and our joy."

Pope Francis


(...) we know that mountain climbers are tied together to keep from getting lost or going over a cliff and even to support and encourage one another, there is another piece of truth here. When things get difficult up on the mountain, when the going gets tough, when the path is too steep, when fear sets in, many a climber is tempted to say, "This is too difficult! It's crazy! I'm going home." This is understandable and sometimes even prudent.

The life of faith can be like that. When doubts set in and despair overwhelms us, the whole notion of believing in God seems crazy. Jesus was aware that his disciples would have days like that (...). Here the focus is on two interconnected aspects. The first of these is the intimate connection between the love which one has for Jesus and keeping his commandment of love - a theme which begins and ends this text - and the second is the promise of the Advocate, Helper, Comforter, Counsellor or Paraclete that Jesus will ask for the disciples from the Father who will come to their aid and to give strength and courage when the going gets tough and the road is steep.
In the first, Jesus is explicit that the love of the disciple has to be a tangible love that will express itself in action. It is to be an imitation of the love that the first letter of Peter speaks about; the love of Christ who died for the guilty to lead us to God. This kind of unconditional love will lead to the disciple sharing in the Father's love.

It also leads to the second and connected aspect: the promise of the gift of the Advocate who will abide not only with the disciples but also in them. The Advocate can mean variously, "the one who comforts", "the one who helps" and "the one who makes appeals on one's behalf". 

This Advocate will not engage in any new work, but will continue the work of Jesus. The Spirit will ensure that the revelation of God begun in Jesus will continue forever. Though the Paraclete will be with the disciples, Jesus himself will also return to accompany the disciples.

While not abandoning traditional beliefs - for instance, in the second coming and judgement - John handles them in a way which relates them directly to the present. The chief focus of his spirituality is not bigger miracles or stricter commandments, but the expansion of the initiative of love which comes from God and seeks to fill the world. This is why John's account of Jesus' last words insists on the Spirit, relationship and resultant action on communities of love which 'speak for themselves'. The passage is framed by human anxiety about the absence of Jesus and ultimately about the absence of God (14:1; 14:27). It does not deny the anxiety and distress, but offers a promise of presence and sense of meaning embedded in sharing God's life and participating in God's action in the world, recognizable by its 'Jesus-shape'. These parting words of Jesus are not merely for his immediate disciples but disciples of all times.
This is why even after the death of Stephen by stoning and the general persecution of the Christian community, Philip, one of the seven chosen deacons, is aware of this presence of the Risen Lord and is bold to proclaim Christ. The Spirit working in and through him enabled him to both preach and act as Jesus himself had done. The result of Philip's actions through the guidance of the Spirit was that people were made whole. This combination of healing word and action resulted in great rejoicing, and many were drawn to Christ.
This presence, in which the disciples loved, continued to sustain them and make an impact on others. Since this was so, they are exhorted in the second reading of today to be willing to share that hope. It is not to be a sharing that smacks of condescension or a sharing which professes to have the whole truth, but a sharing that has to be done in humility, courtesy and reverence for the other. We are given as it were a starting point for inter-religious dialogue.

This kind of sharing is the need of the hour in today's world. In a world that is already a global village but also where each community is becoming more closed in on itself and parochial, the task of the Christian community is evident. Convinced that the Risen Lord continues to accompany us on our journey in and through his Spirit which abides in each of us, we must be able to communicate this presence which is manifested in peace, joy, fellowship and justice for all. source: https://errolsj.blogspot.com


Illustration: Ophra

... if we are isolated, thought and spirit can go far with the creativity of love. This is what we need today: the creativity of love. 

Pope Francis


Pope Francis

Prayer is the breath of faith, it is its most proper expression. Like a cry that comes out of the heart of those who believe and trust in God. Let's think of the story of Bartimaeus, a character from the Gospel ( Mark 10: 46-52 ). He was blind, sitting begging on the side of the road on the outskirts of his city, Jericho. One day he hears that Jesus would pass by. He would do everything possible to meet Jesus. But he's completely alone, and no one cares. And what does Bartimaeus do? Cries out. And he calls out, and he keeps screaming. Using the only weapon in his possession: his voice. He begins to cry out, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" (10: 47). 
His repeated outcry is annoying, and does not seem polite, and many reproach him, telling him to be silent. But Bartimaeus is not silent, indeed, he cries even louder: "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!" That so beautiful. The stubbornness of those who seek grace and knock, knock at the door of God's heart. That expression: "Son of David", is very important; it means "the Messiah". It is a profession of faith that comes out of the mouth of that man despised by everyone.
And Jesus hears his cry. Bartimaeus' prayer touches his heart, the heart of God, and the doors of salvation open for him. Jesus has him called. He sprang to his feet and those who used to tell him to remain silent, now lead him to the Master. 

Jesus speaks to him, asks him to express what he desires- this is important - and then the cry becomes a request: "May I see again, Lord!" (10: 51).Jesus tells him, "Go, your faith has saved you"(10: 52). He recognizes in this poor, helpless, despised man, the power of his faith in its entirety, which attracts God's mercy and power.
Faith is having two hands raised, a voice crying out to implore the gift of salvation.
Faith is a cry; disbelief stifles that cry. That was the attitude of the people, who were trying to keep him quiet: they were not people of faith, he was. Faith is a protest against a painful condition for which we do not understand the reason; to disbelieve is to just suffer a situation that we have adapted to. Faith is the hope of being saved; disbelief is to get used to the evil that oppresses us and to continue like that.
Around him there were people who explained that crying out was useless, that it would be an unanswered voice, that it was noisy and just disturbed, that would he please stop crying out: but he did not remain silent. And in the end he obtained what he desired.
Stronger than any argument to the contrary, in the heart of man there is a voice that prays. We all have this voice inside. A voice that comes out spontaneously, without anyone commanding it, a voice that questions the meaning of our journey here below, especially when we are in darkness: "Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me!" This is a beautiful prayer.
But perhaps, these words, are they not inscribed on all of creation? Everything prays and pleads for the mystery of mercy to find its ultimate fulfilment. It is not only Christians who pray: they share the cry of prayer with all men and women. This silent cry of creation, which presses into every creature and emerges above all in the heart of man, because man is a "beggar before God". It's a beautiful definition. 

Pope Francis



This Sunday is a beautiful Sunday. It is a Sunday of peace, tenderness, meekness because our Shepherd takes care of us. 'The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want' ". 

Pope Francis

He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering them in his arms, holding them close to his heart. Isaiah 40.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.  Palm. 23

Pope at Mass: 

Jesus Wants To Accompany Us Through Sadness

Pope Francis celebrates Sunday Mass at the Casa Santa Marta chapel praying for those who are sad.   He reminds us in his homily that Jesus is near to all who feel distress and dissatisfaction.               By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

"Today in this Mass, we pray for all those who are suffering from sadness, because they are alone or because they do not know what to expect in the future". This was Pope Francis's prayer intention for Mass on Sunday at the Casa Santa Marta chapel. He once again listed families who are suffering financially and may be without work.

Pope Francis focused his homily on the day's Gospel (Luke 24:13-35). It recounts how the Lord accompanied the disciples on their way to Emmaus.

Christians have met Jesus

Pope Francis began his homily with a description of a Christian. "A person is Christian because he or she has met Jesus and has allowed Jesus to meet them". The Lord interacts with us in just the same way that He interacted with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, the Pope continued.

We are thirsty for God

It begins with the "seed of dissatisfaction" that we are born with, he explained. Many times, we are not aware of the thirst in our souls for fulfillment. We take many wrong roads seeking what in the end never satisfies us. What we are really thirsting for is "the encounter with God", Pope Francis stated.

God is thirsty for us

At the same time, God thirsts to meet us. This is why God sent Jesus so that He could draw near and satisfy this thirst. Jesus is extremely respectful of "our personal situation", "He moves slowly", "He is respectful of our readiness", "He is patient", "He doesn't rush ahead", Pope Francis explained. Jesus accompanies us at our side and invites us to talk about what bothers us, even to the point of feigning ignorance.

The Lord likes to hear us speak so He can understand us well and to give the correct response to our dissatisfaction. The Lord does not accelerate. He always goes at our own pace... He waits for us to take the first step. And when it is the right moment, He asks us a question... Then He responds. He explains up until the right point... Then He pretends to go farther, to see how deep our dissatisfaction is... At the moment when our dissatisfaction meets Jesus, the life of grace and fullness of life begins there.

What did Jesus say?

Pope Francis says that he has always been curious to know what Jesus said to those two disciples "so as to do the same". "It must have been a beautiful catechesis", he said. Jesus accompanies us along the entire journey, even when we are not aware of His presence.

We meet Jesus in the darkness of our doubts, even in the horrible darkness of our sins. The Lord is always there to help us in our distress. He's always with us... The Lord accompanies us because He desires to meet us. This is the core of Christianity.

The Pope's prayer

The Pope's concluding prayer was that "Jesus might grant to each one of us the grace of meeting Him every day, to knowing and to specifically recognize that He walks with us in every moment. He is our companion along the pilgrim way". source:vaticannews.va



He does not walk behind or in front of them; he walks by their side. Difficult as these days are for all of us, we are being called and invited to truly believe that the Risen Jesus is walking with us and listening to as we tell him all the things that are happening to us. In your prayer and conversation with Jesus, what are you telling him today? keep reading

-Br Michael Moore OMI   (source:oblates.ie)



Pope Francis reflects on the Divine Mercy

Let us rise with Thomas

Last Sunday we celebrated the Lord's resurrection; today we witness the resurrection of his disciple. Jesus starts all over. The resurrection of his disciple begins with faithful, patient mercy. The hand that always puts us back on our feet is mercy. He wants us to look to Him rather than at our failings.

"The Lord waits for us to offer Him our failings so that He can help us experience His mercy."

Read full text HERE

Pope's Easter Urbi et Orbi message: 

 "The contagion of hope"

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. Read in full here


Homily of Pope Francis
Easter Vigil

"After the Sabbath" (Mt 28:1), the women went to the tomb. This is how the Gospel of this holy Vigil began: with the Sabbath. It is the day of the Easter Triduum that we tend to neglect as we eagerly await the passage from Friday's cross to Easter Sunday's Alleluia. This year however, we are experiencing, more than ever, the great silence of Holy Saturday. We can imagine ourselves in the position of the women on that day. They, like us, had before their eyes the drama of suffering, of an unexpected tragedy that happened all too suddenly. They had seen death and it weighed on their hearts. Pain was mixed with fear: would they suffer the same fate as the Master? Then too there was fear about the future and all that would need to be rebuilt. A painful memory, a hope cut short. For them, as for us, it was the darkest hour.

Yet in this situation the women did not allow themselves to be paralyzed. They did not give in to the gloom of sorrow and regret, they did not morosely close in on themselves, or flee from reality. They were doing something simple yet extraordinary: preparing at home the spices to anoint the body of Jesus. They did not stop loving; in the darkness of their hearts, they lit a flame of mercy. Our Lady spent that Saturday, the day that would be dedicated to her, in prayer and hope. She responded to sorrow with trust in the Lord. Unbeknownst to these women, they were making preparations, in the darkness of that Sabbath, for "the dawn of the first day of the week", the day that would change history. Jesus, like a seed buried in the ground, was about to make new life blossom in the world; and these women, by prayer and love, were helping to make that hope flower. How many people, in these sad days, have done and are still doing what those women did, sowing seeds of hope! With small gestures of care, affection and prayer.

At dawn the women went to the tomb. There the angel says to them: "Do not be afraid. He is not here; for he has risen" (vv. 5-6). They hear the words of life even as they stand before a tomb... And then they meet Jesus, the giver of all hope, who confirms the message and says: "Do not be afraid" (v. 10). Do not be afraid, do not yield to fear: This is the message of hope. It is addressed to us, today. These are the words that God repeats to us today, this very night.

Tonight we acquire a fundamental right that can never be taken away from us: the right to hope. It is a new and living hope that comes from God. It is not mere optimism; it is not a pat on the back or an empty word of encouragement, with a passing smile. No. It is a gift from heaven, which we could not have earned on our own. Over these weeks, we have kept repeating, "All will be well", clinging to the beauty of our humanity and allowing words of encouragement to rise up from our hearts. But as the days go by and fears grow, even the boldest hope can dissipate. Jesus' hope is different. He plants in our hearts the conviction that God is able to make everything work unto good, because even from the grave he brings life.

The grave is the place where no one who enters ever leaves. But Jesus emerged for us; he rose for us, to bring life where there was death, to begin a new story in the very place where a stone had been placed. He, who rolled away the stone that sealed the entrance of the tomb, can also remove the stones in our hearts. So, let us not give in to resignation; let us not place a stone before hope. We can and must hope, because God is faithful. He did not abandon us; he visited us and entered into our situations of pain, anguish and death. His light dispelled the darkness of the tomb: today he wants that light to penetrate even to the darkest corners of our lives. Dear sister, dear brother, 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!

Courage. This is a word often spoken by Jesus in the Gospels. Only once do others say it, to encourage a person in need: "Courage; rise, [Jesus] is calling you!" (Mk 10:49). It is he, the Risen One, who raises us up from our neediness. If, on your journey, you feel weak and frail, or fall, do not be afraid, God holds out a helping hand and says to you: "Courage!". You might say, as did Don Abbondio (in Manzoni's novel), "Courage is not something you can give yourself" (I Promessi Sposi, XXV). True, you cannot give it to yourself, but you can receive it as a gift. All you have to do is open your heart in prayer and roll away, however slightly, that stone placed at the entrance to your heart so that Jesus' light can enter. You only need to ask him: "Jesus, come to me amid my fears and tell me too: Courage!" With you, Lord, we will be tested but not shaken. And, whatever sadness may dwell in us, we will be strengthened in hope, since with you the cross leads to the resurrection, because you are with us in the darkness of our nights; you are certainty amid our uncertainties, the word that speaks in our silence, and nothing can ever rob us of the love you have for us.

This is the Easter message, a message of hope. It contains a second part, the sending forth. "Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee" (Mt 28:10), Jesus says. "He is going before you to Galilee" (v. 7), the angel says. The Lord goes before us, he goes before us always. It is encouraging to know that he walks ahead of us in life and in death; he goes before us to Galilee, that is, to the place which for him and his disciples evoked the idea of daily life, family and work. Jesus wants us to bring hope there, to our everyday life. For the disciples, Galilee was also the place of remembrance, for it was the place where they were first called. Returning to Galilee means remembering that we have been loved and called by God. Each one of us has our own Galilee. We need to resume the journey, reminding ourselves that we are born and reborn thanks to an invitation given gratuitously to us out of love, there, in my own Galilee. This is always the point from which we can set out anew, especially in times of crisis and trial. With the memory of my own Galilee.

But there is more. Galilee was the farthest region from where they were: from Jerusalem. And not only geographically. Galilee was also the farthest place from the sacredness of the Holy City. It was an area where people of different religions lived: it was the "Galilee of the Gentiles" (Mt 4:15). Jesus sends them there and asks them to start again from there. What does this tell us? That the message of hope should not be confined to our sacred places, but should be brought to everyone. For everyone is in need of reassurance, and if we, who have touched "the Word of life" (1 Jn 1:1) do not give it, who will? How beautiful it is to be Christians who offer consolation, who bear the burdens of others and who offer encouragement: messengers of life in a time of death! In every Galilee, in every area of the human family to which we all belong and which is part of us - for we are all brothers and sisters - may we bring the song of life! Let us silence the cries of death, no more wars! May we stop the production and trade of weapons, since we need bread, not guns. Let the abortion and killing of innocent lives end. May the hearts of those who have enough be open to filling the empty hands of those who do not have the bare necessities.

Those women, in the end, "took hold" of Jesus' feet (Mt 28:9); feet that had travelled so far to meet us, to the point of entering and emerging from the tomb. The women embraced the feet that had trampled death and opened the way of hope. Today, as pilgrims in search of hope, we cling to you, Risen Jesus. We turn our backs on death and open our hearts to you, for you are Life itself.