At the Easter Vigil, Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace, Rome (April 7, 2007)
At the Easter Vigil, Prelatic Church of
Our Lady of Peace
1. We have been listening to the account of our Lord’s Resurrection according to St. Luke. When the women reach the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body, they find it empty. Two angels tell them: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Lk 24:3–4).
Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia! The Lord has truly risen. “Life has overcome death,” exclaims St. Josemaría in contemplating this miracle (Holy Rosary, First glorious mystery). And just as Jesus died for you and for me, so is his glorious resurrection for each one of us. As the conqueror of the devil, of sin, and of death, Christ wants to make all men and women sharers in his victory. Already now, on earth, he enables us to conquer sin and the devil; and he promises us that we will resurrect in glory, at the end of time, if we truly unite ourselves to him and do not abandon him.
We can ask ourselves: How does Christ communicate to us the fruits of his victory? How do we unite ourselves to him? There is only one answer: through Baptism and the reception of the other sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist. Our Lord has left everything required for his Church, in order to share with us his immortal life, his life of endless happiness. And he wants to rely on us.
2. “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus,” writes St. Paul in the passage that we have just read from the epistle to the Romans, “were baptized into his death” (Rom 6:3). St. Thomas Aquinas says that, through Baptism, upon being submerged in Christ’s death, all of his merits are applied to us as though each of us had suffered and died with him (cf. S. Th. III, q. 69, a. 2). “We were buried therefore,” continues St. Paul, “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” (Rom 6:4).
To live a new life. This is the great gift and, at the same time, the great commitment that we have acquired with God in Baptism, and that we are going to ratify in a few moments when we renew our baptismal promises. What a good moment to give thanks to God for our Christian vocation! What a good moment to ask pardon for our sins and to renew our resolution to follow him always, without letting ourselves be dazzled by false attractions!
But we have to reaffirm with deeds the choice we have made, corresponding to what our Lord has done for each of us. When, in response to the questions we are asked in this solemn liturgy, you say that you are ready to renounce Satan, his works, and his seductions, and that you believe in God the Father almighty, and in Jesus Christ his Son, and in the Holy Spirit, and in the Catholic Church, don’t say it only with your lips. May the response come from your soul: from your intellect and heart! Consider in those moments—let each of us consider—what that renunciation of sin and that self-giving to God means specifically for me, here and now. Let it be a sincere answer. Let us not leave Jesus Christ alone.
3. In his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI invites us to rediscover that God is Love and, specifically, to fix our eyes “on the pierced side of Christ.” And he adds: “It is there that this truth can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move” (no. 12).
Corresponding to the Love of God means deciding seriously to be saints; that is to say, it means deciding to follow, to love, to identify oneself with Jesus Christ. This divine call, directed to everyone, today has a special resonance. But it requires struggling each day to seek personal contact with our Lord in prayer and in the sacraments; to strive to find him in all the incidents of each day: in study and in work, in family life and when with friends, in sports, in suffering… in everything! But we have to want this with all our strength.
Let us recall what St. Josemaría wrote in The Way, many years ago now: “You tell me: ‘Yes, I want to!’ Good. But do you ‘want to’ as a miser wants his gold, as a mother loves her child, as a worldling wants honors, or as a poor sensualist wants his pleasure? No? Then you don’t ‘want to’!” (The Way, no. 316). If we don’t make a serious effort, day after day, to truly become saints, none of our accomplishments on earth will be worth anything: they will be like the dust that is scattered by the wind.
4. Sanctity, identification with Jesus Chris, is a personal reality, but it is not individualistic. We are all responsible for the mission of the Church; we all have to do apostolate. How? With your good example; with your words spoken in confidence to a friend, to a classmate or colleague, who perhaps is a good person—loyal, hardworking, a good student—but who doesn’t practice the faith, who doesn’t know Christ’s truth.
John Paul II, in his apostolic letter for the new millennium, recalled the Gospel scene in which some Greeks approach the apostle Philip and tell him: “we wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21). The Pope wrote: “Like those pilgrims of two thousand years ago, the men and women of our own day...ask believers not only to ‘speak’ of Christ, but in a certain sense to ‘show’ him to them” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, no. 16). This is the duty of the Church and of every Christian. Ask yourself: Is my behavior such that those around me can see in me a reflection of Jesus?
This doesn’t mean that we don’t have defects and mistakes. Rather it means that, immediately after our mistakes, whether small or great (if such should ever occur), we have to know how to get up, in a constant beginning and beginning again with God’s grace, which will never be lacking to us. Therefore, I insist, we have to follow Jesus very closely: through prayer, through sacrifice, through frequenting the sacraments.
This last consideration is a wonderful resolution that you can make at the end of these days in Rome: to maintain an intimate dialogue with Jesus, to be attentive to your plan of life every day, struggling to intensify your conversation with him and, as a result, growing in your hunger to bring many other people to our Lord. Speaking about apostolic zeal, St. Josemaria said on one occasion: “You have to open yourself like a fan, like a hand with each finger holding up a group of souls, both easy and difficult ones. And then draw them up!” (Notes taken from his preaching, April 10, 1952).
Let us ask our Lady, Queen of Apostles: Mother, may these daughters of yours who have gathered here in Rome, close to the successor of St. Peter, return to their homes firmly decided not to leave your Son Jesus alone, to follow him very closely, bringing with them a large number of souls. And doing so with the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.