“There is a kind of faith that can become the memory of something once beautiful, now simply to be recalled. Many people – we too – experience such a “faith of memories,” as if Jesus were someone from the past, an old friend from their youth who is now far distant, an event that took place long ago, when they attended catechism as a child. A faith made up of habits, things from the past, 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.
We are afraid of God’s surprises; we are often afraid that God will surprise us. And today the Lord invites us to let ourselves be surprised. Let us go to Galilee, then, to discover that God cannot be filed away among our childhood memories, but is alive and filled with surprises. Risen from the dead, Jesus never ceases to amaze us.
This, then, is the second message of Easter: faith is not an album of past memories; Jesus is not outdated. He is alive here and now. He walks beside you each day, in every situation you are experiencing, in every trial you have to endure, in your deepest hopes and dreams.
He opens new doors when you least expect it, he urges you not to indulge in nostalgia for the past or cynicism about the present. Even if you feel that all is lost, please let yourself be open to amazement at the newness Jesus brings: he will surely surprise you.
Going to Galilee also means going to the peripheries. Galilee was an outpost: the people living in that diverse and disparate region were those farthest from the ritual purity of Jerusalem. Yet that is where Jesus began his mission.
There he brought his message to those struggling to live from day to day, proclaiming this message to the excluded, the vulnerable and the poor. There he brought the face and presence of God, who tirelessly seeks out those who are discouraged or lost, who goes to the very peripheries of existence, since in his eyes no one is least, no one is excluded.
The Risen Lord is asking his disciples to go there even today. He asks us to go to Galilee, to this “real Galilee”. It is the settings of daily life, the streets we travel every day, the corners of our cities. There the Lord goes ahead of us and makes himself present in the lives of those around us, those who share in our day, our home, our work, our difficulties and hopes.
In Galilee we learn that we can find the Risen One in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the enthusiasm of those who dream and the resignation of those who are discouraged, in the smiles of those who rejoice and the tears of those who suffer, and above all in the poor and those on the fringes. We will be amazed how the greatness of God is revealed in littleness, how his beauty shines forth in the poor and simple.
And this is the third message of Easter: Jesus, the Risen Lord, loves us without limits and is there at every moment of our lives. Having made himself present in the heart of our world, He invites us to overcome barriers, banish prejudices and draw near to those around us every day in order to rediscover the grace of everyday life.
Let us recognize him here present in our Galilees, in everyday life. With him, life will change. For beyond all defeats, evil and violence, beyond all suffering and death, the Risen One lives and the Risen One guides history.
Sister, 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”.
Like Pope Francis said in his homily, if we put our hope and trust in God, our expectations will not remain unfulfilled. It’s easy to forget that when we find ourselves wading through life’s inevitable sufferings. Nonetheless, the trick is to remind ourselves that there is someone greater than our tribulations; and in time, He will save us. We just need to remain hopeful.