Inspiration for justice and climate action this year from the Pope’s Easter messages and homilies

Aprile 3, 2018

Pope Francis, this Easter:

On this basis and with this strength, we Christians place our lives and our energy, our intelligence, our affections and our will, at the service of discovering, and above all creating, paths of dignity

Excerpts from Easter Vigil Homily

We began this celebration outside, plunged into the darkness of the night and the cold. We felt an oppressive silence at the death of the Lord, a silence with which each of us can identify, a silence that penetrates to the depths of the heart of every disciple. During the trying, painful hours of the Passion, his disciples dramatically experienced their inability to put their lives on the line to speak out on behalf of the Master. What is more, not only did they not acknowledge him: they hid, they escaped, they kept silent (cf. Jn 18:25-27).

It is the silent night of the disciples who remained numb, paralyzed and uncertain of what to do amid so many painful and disheartening situations. It is also that of today’s disciples, speechless in the face of situations we cannot control, that make us feel and, even worse, believe that nothing can be done to reverse all the injustices that our brothers and sisters are experiencing in their flesh. It is the silent night of those disciples who are disoriented because they are plunged in a crushing routine that robs memory, silences hope and leads to thinking that “this is the way things have always been done”. Those disciples who, overwhelmed, have nothing to say and end up considering “normal” and unexceptional the words of Caiaphas: “Can you not see that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed?” (Jn 11:50). Amid our silence, our overpowering silence, the stones begin to cry out (cf. Lk 19:40).  Today, with them, we are invited to contemplate the empty tomb and to hear the words of the angel: “Do not be afraid… for he has been raised” (Mt 28:5-6). Those words should affect our deepest convictions and certainties, the ways we judge and deal with the events of our daily lives, especially the ways we relate to others. The empty tomb should challenge us and rally our spirits. It should make us think, but above all, it should encourage us to trust and believe that God “happens” in every situation and every person and that his light can shine in the least expected and most hidden corners of our lives. He rose from the dead, from that place where nobody waits for anything, and now he waits for us – as he did the women – to enable us to share in his saving work. On this basis and with this strength, we Christians place our lives and our energy, our intelligence, our affections and our will, at the service of discovering, and above all creating, paths of dignity.  How greatly we need to let our frailty be anointed by this experience! How greatly we need to let our faith be revived! How greatly we need our myopic horizons to be challenged and renewed by this message! Christ is risen, and with him, he makes our hope and creativity rise so that we can face our present problems in the knowledge that we are not alone.  To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our “conventions”, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us. To celebrate Easter is to allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.  The stone before the tomb shared in this, the women of the Gospel shared in this, and now the invitation is addressed once more to you and to me. An invitation to break out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions, and our existence. An invitation that must be directed to where we stand, what we are doing and what we are, with the “power ratio” that is ours. Do we want to share in this message of life or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen? He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and he says to you: Do not be afraid, follow me.

Excerpts from Easter Day remarks by Pope Francis:

Jesus had foretold his death and resurrection using the image of the grain of wheat. He said: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). And this is precisely what happened: Jesus, the grain of wheat sowed by God in the furrows of the earth, died, killed by the sin of the world. We Christians believe and know that Christ’s resurrection is the true hope of the world, the hope that does not disappoint. It is the power of the grain of wheat, the power of that love which humbles itself and gives itself to the very end, and thus truly renews the world. This power continues to bear fruit today in the furrows of our history, marked by so many acts of injustice and violence. It bears fruits of hope and dignity where there are deprivation and exclusion, hunger and unemployment, where there are migrants and refugees (so often rejected by today’s culture of waste), and victims of the drug trade, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery. We invoke on this day fruits of hope for those who yearn for a more dignified life.  We also implore fruits of wisdom for those who have political responsibilities in our world, that they may always respect human dignity, devote themselves actively to the pursuit of the common good, and ensure the development and security of their own citizens. The words heard by the women at the tomb are also addressed to us: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen” (Lk 24:5-6). Death, solitude, and fear are not the last word. There is a word that transcends them, a word that only God can speak: it is the word of the resurrection.

It is up to the church, bearer of “knowledge” of people, to discover God in each human being, in an attitude of listening rather than teaching, and to systematically denounce all attacks on human dignity. And it is up to the church, as a place of fellowship, to find new words in order to speak of the one who is the source of all fellowship, and to make Him known to people of our time who are searching for meaning.

Another twist on the gifts of women/feminine genius – from Beatrice Finn, last Nobel Peace Prize winner

“I don’t believe that women are necessarily pacifists by nature. But women are the ones who have to manage the consequences of war: maintain hospitals and schools, repair families and communities,” she said. “For me, the solution is not technical; it is cultural. The solution is already there. Some things that are apparently acceptable suddenly become unacceptable,” she said, “such as, for example, smoking in public places.”

Tom Mauser, Catholic (former?) member of Cabrini parish, whose son Daniel tried to stop the Columbine killers and was the last their shot, spoke at the Lives Matter march this past month.

The revolution among younger Millennials and Gen Zers only occasionally resembles the kind of policy-manifesto, demand-specific political movement older generations recognize. The young are not trapped in age-old talking points and battles; their startling behavior improvements are largely the product of the unique interconnections modern technology and evolving tolerance are making available. The real action is at the hidden, personal network level.  We need young people’s help. Adults’ ideas to reduce gun violence have not worked. Children and teenagers suffer the same proportions of gun fatalities in states with high age limits for gun purchases as in those without; shootings occur in schools that have armed guards (as was the case in Parkland, Florida), schools with advanced security technology, and so on.  Experience shows more armed grownups in schools is definitely not the answer. A number of “school shootings” in the last year alone actually involved guns brought into schools by teachers, a teacher’s partnera principal, and a police officer.

Examination shows that around 9 in 10 shootings in schools don’t specifically target schools; they involve society’s problems spilling into schools. As many public shooters (including mass shooters) are over age 40 as are under 25. Businesses and workplaces have many more shootings, and home—not school—are by far the most likely place for a child to suffer a gun homicide. Adding 750,000 to 1 million more guns in schools (the math behind the Trump/NRA proposal to arm six to eight teachers per school) would only multiply gun problems.  It is understandable that the “Never Again” student movement born of a horrific school shooting is focused on schools and the particular 20-year-old shooter. But the two dozen or so deadly school shootings every year cannot be addressed without confronting the thousands of gun homicides that occur nowhere near a school.