LATIN PATRIARCATE - JERUSALEM
Easter Message
31 March 2002

Brothers and Sisters

1. I address you this Easter message on Good Friday to remind ourselves of the intimate link between the two memories. Today, we meditate the unfathomable mystery of God as we hear our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word of God, crying on the Cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Then he gave up his spirit, in front of a crowd facing the mystery of God with irony. On Easter Sunday we commemorate the manifestation of the same mystery in the glory of the Resurrection. The Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Word of God, rising from the dead, and triumphing over death, sin and all kind of evil. Christ is risen, yes indeed, he is risen.

         2. From the same place which God wanted to sanctify by his presence and his mystery, from the Holy city, form the Calvary and near the empty tomb, place of our glorious salvation, I wish you a holy Easter and ask God to fill you with his grace and blessing, to grant you in your daily life the strength, glory and joy of Resurrection. I address this message particularly to our faithful in the Holy Land, and I ask God Almighty to give us all the power to triumph over all the forces of death which are manifested through the various trials and sufferings which demolish us in these days. For us all, for all the inhabitants of this land, I ask God to grant us a just and definitive peace which put an end to the bloodshed, the demolition of houses, the siege, the humiliations imposed upon the human being by sterile security measures, which produce only more sufferings, more death for all, Palestinians and Israelis alike, and more hatred towards each other.

3        The Holy city, place of the mystery of God, sign of his presence and of his love and his justice among men, is itself today the source of dissent and the cause of bloodshed. Jesus Christ came and brought salvation to everyone. He brought love to everyone. For all he gave a unique commandment in which he summed up all the law and the prophets: love each other. love God and love your neighbour, linking between the love of God and that of God’s children. In this difficult commandment , every responsible in human societies, and particularly in our Holy City, could find, if he wished, enough strength to put an end to dissent, sufferings and bloodshed. The way which leads to peace is in itself clear and simple. The way which puts an end to all violence, protects the Israeli and guarantees his security, frees him from fear, anxiety and threatening death at every moment and in every place, gives back to the Palestinian his freedom, land and dignity, puts an end to his sufferings and guarantees his security and tranquility, this way consists of removing a military fact which weighs upon the land since 1967: the Occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Therefore, instead of reacting against force by a greater one, the Israeli leaders should react with a new force, the strength of the spirit and the moral courage which invites them to put an end to the bandage imposed upon the land which they occupy. This would be a security measure, a wise and efficient one which will produce the desired security that all military actions failed to produce, so far. This measure will regenerate a new life in this Holy Land, and will allow all its inhabitants to participate in its holiness. So all together they will build a new land and a new human being will emerge.

4        We mourn and pray for all the victims. All are dear and precious in the eyes of God, as well as to the heart of every mother, father, relative and friend. We present them all before the eyes of the Almighty, ask him to accept them all in his mercy and to have compassion upon us all. We ask him to open the eyes and the hearts of those who have in their hands the key of peace and the ability of ending the occupation which only demolishes peace day after day and makes it always farther.

5        Some religious leaders, Jews, Christians and Moslems, after the Alexandria meeting in January of this year, started meeting in order to reflect together on the tragedy of this land, with the hope of reach one common vision, so that they may hear together the words of the Psalmist: “I am listening. What is God’s message? God’s message is peace for his people, for his faithful, if only they renounce their folly…Faithful love and loyalty join together. Saving Justice and Peace embrace”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             (Ps 84, 9.11). Hopefully, they will reach a common position which will manifest the justice and love of God in this regard. God does not help a brother against his brother, but gives his grace to every one in order to triumph over the inner evil so as to enable him to practice justice for himself and for his brother. In this way the salvation of God will become nearer to us as says the Psalmist: “His saving help is near for those who fear him, his glory will dwell in our land”  (Ps 84,10).

6        Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the glorious Resurrection of the Lord, I invite you to remain patient and firm in the trial. I urge you to see in the Resurrection of the Lord the source of a permanent hope and strength to build together justice and peace:: “so that as Christ was raised from the dead  by the Father’s glorious power, we too should begin a new life” (Rom 6: 4). May the Resurrection of the Lord be a resurrection to all the inhabitants of our land, for a new life and a new love based on justice and reconciliation. Christ is risen, yes indeed he is risen.

                                                +Michel Sabbah, Patriarch, Jerusalem