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Pope prays for the world in Easter message

Catholic World News - April 01, 2013

In his Urbi et Orbi message for Easter Sunday, March 31, Pope Francis extended his greetings to the world, offering the hope of Easter joy “especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons… Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart.”

Easter, the Pope reminded the faithful, “is the exodus, the passage of human beings from the slavery to sin and evil to the freedom of love and goodness.”

The Pope delivered his Easter message at midday, after celebrating Mass for the 250,000 people who crowded St. Peter’s Square. The papal altar was decorated with more than 40,000 flowers for the feast day, and the liturgy began with the Resurrexit ritual in which the Pontiff venerates an icon of the Risen Christ, recalling St. Peter’s visit to the empty tomb. Pope Francis did not deliver a homily during the Mass, because he had preached a homily at the Easter Vigil service just hours earlier, and would be offering further reflections in his Urbi et Orbi message.

In that message, the Pope used an image of dry desert land to describe the condition of humanity without Christ’s gift of salvation:

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. God's love can do this.

“How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross,” the Pope remarked. He mentioned especially the “desert” that is formed when people “are lacking love for God and neighbour, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us.” He encouraged the Christian faithful to allow the the Lord’s grave “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.”

The Pope offered his prayers for peace in the world, making special mention of trouble spots: the Israel-Palestine conflict, Syria, Mail, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, and the Korean peninsula. He added a plea for 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 21st century.”

(For the full text of the Pope’s Urbi et Orbi address, and his homily at the Easter Vigil Mass, see the CWN headline entries below from Easter Sunday.)

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