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John Chapter 20 : 1 On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.


John Paul II's Easter Message

Papal Homily for Easter Vigil Mass

John Paul II's Easter Message
"Let There Be an End to the Chain of Hatred and Terrorism"

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2003 ( Here is John Paul II's Easter Message, which he delivered at midday in St. Peter's Square.

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1. "Surrexit Dominus de sepulcro qui pro nobis pependit in ligno" (from the Liturgy).

"The Lord is risen from the tomb; for our sake he hung on the Cross." Alleluia! The Easter proclamation joyfully resounds: Christ is risen! He is truly risen! He who "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried," Jesus, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, "rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (Creed).

2. This proclamation is the foundation of the hope of all mankind. If Christ did not rise from the dead, not only would our faith be in vain (cf. 1 Cor 15:14), but our hope would also be vain, for we would all still be held hostage by evil and death. "But in fact -- today’s Liturgy proclaims -- Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor 15:20). By his death Jesus has crushed and triumphed over the iron-clad law of death, eliminating its poisonous root for ever.

3. "Peace be with you!" (Jn 20:19,20).

This is the first greeting of the Risen One to his disciples; a greeting which echoes today throughout the world. O Good News, so long awaited, so greatly desired! O proclamation of consolation for all those oppressed beneath the burden of sin and its many structures! For all, especially for the least and the poor, we proclaim today the hope of peace, of true peace, founded on the solid pillars of love and justice, of truth and freedom.

4. "Pacem in terris...".

"Peace on earth, the profound aspiration of men and women of all times, can be firmly established and sustained only if the order established by God is firmly respected" (Encyclical "Pacem in Terris," Introduction). These are the first words of the historic Encyclical, in which forty years ago Blessed Pope John XXIII indicated to the world the way of peace. These words remain as timely as ever at the dawn of the third millennium, tragically marred by acts of violence and conflicts.

5. Peace in Iraq! With the support of the international community, may the Iraqi people become the protagonists of the collective rebuilding of their country. Peace in other parts of the world, where forgotten wars and protracted hostilities are causing deaths and injuries amid silence and neglect on the part of considerable sectors of public opinion.

With profound grief I think of the wake of violence and bloodshed, with no sign of ceasing, in the Holy Land. I think of the tragic situation of many countries on the African continent, which cannot be abandoned to itself. I am well aware of the centers of tension and the attacks on people’s freedom in the Caucasus, in Asia and in Latin America, areas of the world equally dear to me.

6. Let there be an end to the chain of hatred and terrorism, which threatens the orderly development of the human family. May God grant that we be free from the peril of a tragic clash between cultures and religions. May faith and love of God make the followers of every religion courageous builders of understanding and forgiveness, patient weavers of a fruitful inter-religious dialogue, capable of inaugurating a new era of justice and peace.

7. As he said to the terrified Apostles on the wind-swept sea, Christ says once more to the men and women of our time: "Take heart, it is I; have no fear!" (Mk 6:50). If he is with us, why should we fear? However dark the horizon of humanity may seem, today we celebrate the radiant triumph of Easter joy. If a contrary wind slows the march of peoples, if the sea of history is tossed by storms, let no one yield to dismay and lack of trust! Christ is risen; Christ is alive in our midst; truly present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, he offers himself as the Bread of salvation, Bread for the poor, the Food of wayfarers.

8. O divine presence of love, O living memorial of Christ our Pasch, for the suffering and the dying you are food for their journey, for everyone you are the sure pledge of eternal life! O Mary, the first tabernacle of history, silent witness of the wonders of Easter, help us to sing with our lives your own Magnificat of praise and thanksgiving, for today "The Lord is risen from the tomb; for our sake he hung on the Cross."

Christ is risen, our peace and our hope. He is risen. Alleluia!

[English text distributed by Vatican press office]

Papal Homily for Easter Vigil Mass
The Empty Tomb That Changed History

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2003 ( Here is a translation of the homily John Paul II delivered at the Easter Vigil Mass held on Holy Saturday in St. Peter's Basilica.

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1. "Do not be afraid; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here" (Mk 16,6).

At sunrise of the first day after the Sabbath, as recounted in the Gospel, some women go the sepulcher to honor the body of Jesus, who, having been crucified on Friday, was quickly wrapped in linen and placed in the tomb. They look for him, but they do not find him: he is no longer in the place where he was laid. All that remains of him are the signs of the burial: the empty tomb, the bindings, the linen shroud. The women, however, are disturbed by the sight of "a young man, dressed in a white robe", who proclaims to them: "He is risen, he is not here".

This upsetting news, destined to change the course of history, from that moment on continues to resound from generation to generation: an ancient proclamation, yet always new. It resonates once again during this Easter Vigil, mother of all vigils, and it is spreading at this very moment throughout all the earth.

2. O sublime mystery of this Holy Night! The night in which we relive the extraordinary event of the Resurrection. If Christ were to have remained a prisoner of the tomb, humanity and all of creation, in a certain way, would have lost their meaning. But you, Christ, are truly risen.

The Scriptures we have just heard in the Liturgy of the Word find their fulfillment and run through every stage of the entire salvific plan. At the beginning of Creation, "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (Gn 1:31). To Abraham he had promised: "by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves" (Gn 22:18). Here is again proposed one of the most ancient themes of the Hebrew tradition which reveals the meaning of the Exodus when "the Lord saved Israel from the hand of the Egyptians" (Ex 14:30). The promises of the Prophets continue to be fulfilled in our time: "I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes ..." (Ez 36:27).

3. On this night of Resurrection everything begins anew; creation regains its authentic meaning in the plan of salvation. It is like a new beginning of history and of the cosmos, because Christ is risen, "the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor 15:20). Christ, the "last Adam", has become "a life-giving spirit" (1 Cor 15:45).

The same sin of our forefathers is sung in the Easter Proclamation as "felix culpa", "O happy fault, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!". Where sin abounded, grace now abounds all the more, and "the stone which the builder rejected has become the corner stone" (Psalm Response) of an indestructible spiritual edifice.

On this Holy Night a new people is born with whom God has sealed an eternal covenant in the blood of the Word made flesh, crucified and risen.

4. One becomes a member of the people of the redeemed through Baptism. As the Apostle Paul has reminded us in Epistle to the Romans: "We are buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (6:4). This exhortation is especially for you, dearest catechumens, to whom, in just a few moments, Mother Church will administer the great gift of divine life. From different countries divine providence has led you here, to the tomb of Saint Peter, to receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. Entering in this way into the house of the Lord, you will be consecrated with the oil of happiness and can feed yourselves with the Bread of Heaven.

Sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit, you will persevere in your faith in Christ, and courageously proclaim his Gospel.

5. Dearest Brothers and Sisters gathered here! In just a few moments we too will be united with the catechumens in renewing our Baptismal promises. We will again renounce Satan and all his works clinging firmly to God and his work of salvation. In this manner, we will make an even firmer commitment to an evangelical life.

Mary, joyful witness of the Resurrection, help us all to live "a new life"; make each of us conscious that, having crucified our "old self" with Christ, we must consider and conduct ourselves as new men, people "alive to God, in Christ Jesus" (cf. Rm 6:4,11).

Amen, Alleluia!

[Translation of Italian original issued by the Vatican press office]


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