The women thought they would find a body to anoint; instead, they found an empty tomb. They went to mourn the dead; instead, they heard a proclamation of life. … And a message: He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him (Mt 28:7).
May we too accept this message of Easter. Let us go to Galilee, where the Risen Lord has gone ahead of us. Yet what does it mean “to go to Galilee”?
To go to Galilee means, first: to begin anew. For the disciples it meant going back to the place where the Lord first sought them out and called them to follow him. The place of their first encounter and the place of their first love.
From that moment on, leaving their nets behind, they followed Jesus, listening to his preaching and witnessing the miracles he performed. …
Frequently they misunderstood his words and in the face of the cross they abandoned him and fled.
Even so, the Risen Lord once more appears as the one who goes ahead of them to Galilee.
He precedes them. He stands before them and constantly calls them to follow him. He says to them: “Let us start over from where we began. Let us begin anew. I want you to be with me again, in spite of everything”.
In this Galilee, we learn to be amazed by the Lord’s infinite love, which opens new trails along the path of our defeats. This is how the Lord is: he creates new paths on the road of our defeats. This is how he is; and he invites us to Galilee to do this.
This is the Easter message that I would offer you: It is always possible to begin anew, because there is always a new life that God can awaken in us in spite of all our failures.
From the rubble of our hearts—and each one of us knows the rubble of our hearts—God can create a work of art; from the ruined remnants of our humanity, God can prepare a new history….
In the cross of suffering, desolation and death, and in the glory of a life that rises again, a history that changes, a hope that is reborn. … Let us listen to the Risen Lord as he invites us to begin anew and never lose hope. …
Going to Galilee also means setting out on new paths. It means walking away from the tomb. The women were looking for Jesus in the tomb; they went to recall what they had experienced with him, which was now gone forever.
… There is a kind of faith that can become the memory of something once beautiful, now [only something] to be recalled— … lovely childhood memories, but no longer a faith that moves me, or challenges me.
Going to Galilee, on the other hand, means realizing that faith, if it is to be alive, must get back on the road. It must daily renew the first steps of the journey, the amazement of the first encounter. And it must continue to trust, not thinking it already knows everything, but embracing the humility of those who let themselves be surprised by God’s ways. …
Dear sister, dear brother: if on this night you are experiencing an hour of darkness, a day that has not yet dawned, a light dimmed or a dream shattered, go, open your heart with amazement to the message of Easter: Do not be afraid, he has risen! He awaits you in Galilee.
Your expectations will not remain unfulfilled, your tears will be dried, your fears will be replaced by hope. For the Lord always goes ahead of you, he always walks before you. And, with him, life always begins anew.
Excerpted from the pope’s homily at the Easter Vigil Mass, April 3, 2021