As the Church continues the celebration of Easter, Pope Francis led the midday Regina Caeli in St. Peter’s Square, encouraging the faithful to come out of our tombs of fear.
The Risen Jesus has simple words, the Pope said: “Do not be afraid.”
The Lord knows that our fears are our daily enemies. He also knows that our fears hide from the great fear, that of death: fear of fading away, of losing loved ones, of being sick, of not being able to cope further … But at Easter Jesus conquered death. So, no one else can tell us in a more convincing way: “Do not be afraid.”
Pope Francis noted how the Lord makes this invitation “right there next to the tomb from which he came out victorious.”
“He invites us to come out of the tomb of our fears,” he said.
Listen closely: come out of the tombs of our fears, since our fears are like tombs, they bury us. He knows that fear is always lurking at the door of our heart, and we need to hear ourselves say do not be afraid, fear not on Easter morning as on the morning of every day, “do not be afraid.” Take courage. Brother, sister, who believe in Christ, do not be afraid! Jesus says: “I tasted death for you, I took your pain upon myself. Now I have risen to tell you: I am here with you forever. Do not be afraid!” Fear not.
How to fight fear
Fear isn’t always easy to fight, though, and Pope Francis said that Jesus’ second invitation to the women is a strategy to combat fear. “Go and tell.”
Fear always closes us in on ourselves, while Jesus instead makes us go forth and sends us to others. This is the solution. We might say to ourselves, but I am not capable of doing this! But just think, the women were not perhaps the most suitable and prepared to proclaim the resurrection, but that did not matter to the Lord. He cares that we go forth and proclaim. Go and tell. Because the Easter joy is not to be kept to oneself. The joy of Christ is strengthened by giving it, it multiplies sharing it. If we open ourselves and bear the Gospel, our hearts will open and overcome fear. This is the secret: we proclaim and overcome fear.
Lies for money
The Holy Father then noted the interesting contradiction related in the Gospel, which is brought about because of love for money. Falsehood is an obstacle that proclamation can encounter, he explained.
The Gospel narrates a “counter-proclamation,” that of the soldiers who guarded the tomb of Jesus. The Gospel says they were paid “a sum of money,” a good sum, and received these instructions: “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’”
The Pope pointed out how this account doesn’t make sense. How did the soldiers know what happened while they were sleeping?
“Did you see during your sleep how they stole the body?” There is a contradiction there, but a contradiction that everyone believes because money was involved. It is the power of money, the other lord that Jesus says we must never serve. …
It is a reminder for us also: falsehoods – in words and in life – they taint the announcement, they corrupt within, leading back to the tomb. Falsehoods take us backwards, they lead right to death, to the tomb.
The Risen One instead wants us to come out of the tombs of falsehood and dependency. Before the Risen Lord, there is another “god” – the god of money that dirties and ruins everything, that closes the door to salvation. This is present everywhere in daily life with the temptation to adore the god of money.
Dear brothers and sisters, rightfully we are scandalized when in the news we discover deceit and lies in the lives of persons and society. But let us give a name also to the obscurity and falsehoods we have in ourselves! And let us place our own darkness and falsehoods before the light of the Risen Jesus. He wants to bring hidden things to light to make us transparent and luminous witnesses to the joy of the Gospel, of the truth that will make you free (cf Jn 8:32).
May Mary, Mother of the Risen One, help us overcome our fears and give us passion for the truth.