EASTER MESSAGE 1997
Christ is risen, Halleujah. He is risen indeed, Hallelujah
1. Our message on the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord, is the message of the one who defeated death, Our Lord and God Jesus Christ, one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Word of God became man. As a man he died on the cross and as God he defeated death and has resurrected in glory. All this happened for our redemption and for the expiation of our sins, to liberate us from all the forces of evil and death, so that we may have life eternal within us.
St John said: “For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life" (Jn 3:16). Our meditation, in these days, on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is an invitation to renew hope. Jesus died and has resurrected. From now on, it is possible for every believer to rise from all kinds of death and to liberate himself from all kinds of evil whether within himself or surrounding him. Christ is risen. Let us rejoice and renew our hope, so that we can attain all good, both for ourselves, for our society, our land , our region and for all the peoples of the earth.
2. Many evils are surrounding us. The main one is the absence of peace. It is absent in the hearts and intentions, or it is susbstituted by egoistic views which exclude the other and do not take him into consideration. The peace process is stumbling. Talks should now be replaced by clear actions which give back freedom and dignity to every Palestinian and security to every Israeli. Only actions will constitute a solid base for peace, in the land as much as in the hearts. Then reconciliation and forgiveness can become possible; then love and resurrection will become part of our life.
Blood is still unfortunately being shed. Violence is still in the hearts and blindness concerning the rights of others are still in the minds of the leaders. The blood being shed is innocent blood. It is possible to stop this bloodshed, if the leaders open their eyes to see that every human being derives his dignity from God's dignity, Israelis and Palestinians alike, and that dignity with dignity is saved; the Israeli dignity will only be confermed with the Palestinian dignity. There is no possibility to escape from this equality among peoples if peace is to be reached. Every effort to forget or to remain blind about that will keep the innocent blood being shed; and those responsible for violence are the ones who recourse to violence and those who provoke violence by unwise or unjust decisions..
The Holy City, the place of all the holy events which we recall to mind during this holy week, the city of resurrection and redemption, is still the main cause for the absence of peace. Everyone believes that it is the city of peace. Yet, it remains the source of disputes in the hearts. It is still, for security reasons, forbidden for our believers. This holy city should have a unique and special status which guarantees its holiness and its sovereignty alike. God wanted this city to be a holy heritage for the three monotheistic religions. On this base its peace could be built.: the principle of sharing the city is the only way to peace.
3. The message of the glorious resurrection of Christ is a message of joy, hope and peace. We bring this message to all our faithful in all our dioceses in Jordan, Cyprus, Israel and Palestine, and to all believers in the world. We believe that peace is possible and can be reached: it is a grace of God to humankind, and God is higher and stronger; His peace will reign upon us; we will repent and revert to God our Creator, and reconcile with Him and with all our brothers and sisters. To you all, brothers and sisters, I ask the Risen Lord to fill your hearts with hope and joy based on justice, forgiveness and love. Christ is risen, Halleujah. He is risen indeed, Halleujah.
+ MICHEL SABBAH PATRIARCH
JERUSALEM EASTER MAY, 30. 1997