Amid Pilgrims from Around the World, Pope Francis Celebrates First Easter

Amid Pilgrims from Around the World, Pope Francis Celebrates First Easter

In his first Urbi et Orbi message- to the city of Rome and to the world– Pope Francis told the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who came to celebrate Easter with him, that the power of Christ’s 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.”

As Vatican Radio reports, following Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis addressed the crowds from around the world who came to listen to his first Urbi et Orbi address from the central loggia of the basilica, the place he gave his first message as pope.

The pope likened those who feel no love for God or neighbor as having a “desert within… when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us.” Francis said that “God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones.”

Pope Francis invited everyone to “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…”

The Pope asked for peace throughout the world, including “peace for the Middle East, particularly between Israelis and Palestinians… in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and, above all, for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort.”

The evening before, Pope Francis celebrated the Great Easter Vigil, when, again, the focus of his homily was the transforming power of the Resurrection. The pontiff invited everyone to welcome “God’s surprises” in their lives.

“Let us not be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives!” Pope Francis said. “Are we often weary, disheartened and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up.”

Francis asserted, “There are no situations which God cannot change, there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him.”