For today’s Easter Sunday mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis broke with tradition and gave an improvised homily, in which he insisted that Jesus Christ’s resurrection “is not a fantasy” and acknowledged that in the midst of so much evil and suffering in the world, many tend to wonder where God is.
According to Crux, in his off-the-cuff Easter Sunday homily, Pope Francis spoke about a conversation from the day before with a young man suffering from a serious illness. According to the pontiff, he had attempted to make the man understand that though God does not offer any explanations for all that’s wrong in the world, his promise of the resurrection is real.
“Jesus has risen from the dead,” Pope Francis said.
“And this is not a fantasy. It’s not a celebration with many flowers [pointing at the arrangements surrounding him]. This is beautiful, but [the resurrection] is more.”
“It is the mystery of the thrown-away stone, that ends up being the cornerstone of our existence,” he told the crowd gathered at St. Peter’s Square.
“In this throwaway culture, where that which is not useful takes the path of the use-and-throw, where that which is not useful is discarded, that stone that was discarded is the fountain of life.”
“You, little pebble, have a reason in life,” he added.
“Because you’re a pebble holding on to the cornerstone, that stone that evilness of sin has discarded.”
Pope Francis is known for improvising homilies and speaking from his heart. He does this during morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta and often when he celebrates Mass on trips abroad and on visits to prisoners and refugees. However, improvising a homily in this particular setting is quite rare.
But for today’s solemn Easter Sunday Mass, he chose to speak from the heart. During his speech, he asked those present to think about all the chaos and tragedy in the world and, “with a humble voice, without flowers, alone,” call on God.
“I don’t know how this is going, but I’m sure that Christ has risen.”
Pope Francis also talked about reaching out to those on “the outskirts of society” and denounced “oppressive regimes.” While he did not name specific governments in his Easter Sunday homily, he urged world leaders to stop the growing tide of hate and conflict around the globe.
“In the complex and often dramatic situations of today’s world, may the Risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace,” he said.
“May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade.”
The pontiff’s speech was made mere hours after North Korea cautioned the United States against “military hysteria.” Francis also slammed the bombing of a packed Syrian bus convoy outside Aleppo on Saturday, calling it an “ignoble” act. The BBC says that the bomb attack had killed 126 people, including at least 68 children. Pope Francis asked God to heal and comfort those in the “beloved and martyred Syria.”
Fox News reported that about 60,000 people from various countries came to the Vatican for the Easter Sunday Mass. Pilgrims, tourists, and locals alike went through strict anti-terrorism security checks to see and hear Pope Francis and receive the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing. The exceptionally tight security this Easter Sunday, the fifth of Francis’ pontificate, was a result of the recent attacks that have injured and killed pedestrians in Stockholm and London.
According to Reuters, there were more police and army vehicles at St. Peter’s Square and around the Vatican today than usual. Those who sought to enter the square, which was adorned with 35,000 flowers and trees, had to go through several check points.
After the Easter Sunday Mass, Pope Francis got into his open-topped popemobile and toured the square.
[Featured Image by Franco Origlia/Getty Images]