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Easter 2016 : Patriarch’s homily

Easter 2016 : Patriarch’s homily

JERUSALEM – Patriarch Fouad Twal celebrated the Solemn Mass of the Resurrection of our Lord at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday, March, 27, 2016. Below is the Patriarch’s Easter Sunday homily.

“Christ is risen! He is truly risen! “

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and Priests,

Dear religious men and women,

Dear faithful of the Holy Land

Dear faithful and pilgrims from around the world, and all our journalists and photographers who covered the events of the past week here in the heart of our Christian faith,

I wish all of you a blessed Easter, may the light and joy of Easter radiate within you and in your lives!

“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”(Lk 24:34).

We are here today at the end of the Triduum of the Passion of our Lord. After a painful Friday and a silent Saturday, Easter Sunday’s light shines anew and joy bursts with the breaking of a new day!! Sunday, the first day of the week is the Lord’s day, when He makes all things new.

Love, “is strong as Death,” (Song 8:6), that leads to the Tomb, very early in the morning on the first day of the week, when the women with flowers and spices went to anoint the body of their Lord buried hastily on Friday. They did not find the body of Jesus, the tomb was empty! Even today brothers and sisters, we are witnesses, as all of the thousands of pilgrims and visitors who come here every day. They see the tomb is empty! Christ has conquered death!

Like the holy women, we seek the face of Christ, we thirst for his word, yearn for his presence and his peace. Our heart is restless! It is restless, because God apparently is not where we would like to find Him. We are looking for Him in our cities, in our often torn and broken families and in our places of conflict and violence. As with the holy women, we allow ourselves to be anxious, fearful of the emptiness and absence, but let us not be overcome by fear!

The Body of Christ no longer dwells in this Tomb. He manifested himself in glory to his disciples, and his followers were able to touch him. Thomas has even put his fingers into His side (cf.Jn 20:27). This great mystery of the resurrection of the flesh, that we also anticipate and profess every Sunday!

The tomb is empty, the Crucified One is alive and he asks us to bring his message to the world, and to proclaim to everyone as Mary Magdalene did to his disciples, “I have seen the Lord! “(Jn 20:18). This message is for all people of the world, Christians, Jews, Muslims, believers, atheists. Everyone is waiting for this good news: God is Love made man, to free us from death, from sin and any kind of violence.

People today still need visible and concrete evidence. But it seems that nothing can convince man with even the most tangible evidence: an empty tomb, a holy shroud, the dead that have risen, the sick who were healed… Nothing could convince him because faith is not a story of belief, it is a gift from God that bears fruit in the human heart. The first miracle of the Resurrection of Christ, is one that happened in the hearts of the holy women: a reversal, a conversion which made them become terrified women as they were, the missionaries and courageous witnesses.

Just like these holy women, we are called to overcome our fears and prejudices to bring the message to the world that awaits it.

Brothers and sisters, the world needs to know the face of the risen Christ and to experience the peace promised! We who have received the grace and privilege of revelation, much will be required of us (cf. Lk 12:48). We cannot announce the Resurrection simply by words. Our whole lives must, in praises, proclaim this infinite mercy “in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18), through our unity, our joy, our prayers and most especially, by our charity and service to the poor, the abandoned, the refugees, the marginalized: “this is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”(Jn 13:35).

Let us, brothers and sisters, worthy of our heritage, be faithful witnesses, to be “the light of the world” (Mt 5:14) to all those whom the Lord puts on our paths, among them thousands of pilgrims and tourists who come to this holy place every day, seeking God, and with all these alienated, broken and bruised people suffering in the midst of war and violence, who are waiting and looking for opportunities for a better life, better home and a peaceful world.

The women left the tomb, trembling and astonished… Despite the holy fear that they are confronted by an empty tomb, they managed to announce the message, “Christ is risen, He is not here, go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (cf. Mt 28:6, 10). Every corner of the world is a Galilee, where Christ loves to be present in the family, the office, the stadium and the refugee camps. Each person is a Galilee where the Lord loves to come and stay.

Brothers and sisters, the world awaits many of us, we who are the successors of the Apostles and the first Christian community. Today the Lord invites us to bury our worldly desires, our divisions, our hostility, our lack of faith, our lack of love and our selfishness in this Tomb, so we can be reborn and rise with Him to new life, a life of mercy! Let us put away the “old self” (cf. Ep 4:22), who lives in fear and insecurity. Let us put on the new self, who believes in good and peace, and that God has promised, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). Let us be firm and sincere in our hope, and pray, pray without ceasing, that peace will finally come to the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world.

Dear brothers and sisters –

To you who are sick, the elderly, the refugees and prisoners, victims of indifference and isolation, and those living the Good Friday, who labor and are burdened by many trials,

To you who can still live the joy of Easter, but cannot spread the Good News because of thoughtless policies and blind fanaticism, and before our eyes, the innocent suffer and perish, especially with the tragic events of the past few days in Belgium, for the injured and the bereaved families,

We ask Mr. Bruno Jans, Consul General of Belgium in Jerusalem to convey our condolences and assurance of our prayers to the people and the government of Belgium. Through you, we say, it is all of us around the world whose hearts are pierced by this tragedy.

For you all, we raise our prayers so that the hope of the Resurrection can heal your wounds and console your broken hearts.

The world can never give us such hope, “when Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory”(Col 3:4).

“He is not here, He is risen as He said.” (Mt 28:6)

Go tell this news to the world “so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God! May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst!”[1]

Alleluia, Alleluia!

† Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch

Photos: Thomas Charrière & Andres Bergamini


[1] Pope Francis, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee, § 5

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