LATIN PATRIARCHY - JERUSALEM
Easter Message 2003
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Let's rejoice and renew our hope.
Yes, brothers and sisters, we invite you to rejoice in spite of the hardships we are suffering. We invite you to live in spite of the death that surrounds us. We invite you to love in spite of the hatred that demolishes the hearts in these days. Christ is risen. He defeated death and death has no more power on him. This is our Easter wish for all: to see that death is overcome and has no more power in this Holy Land on the hearts of Palestinians and Israelis. We, Christians, believe in the Resurrection, therefore we keep hoping that one day, the Holy Land will be for all its inhabitants, a land of Resurrection and no more a land of death and hatred.
The Gospel says that Jesus, on one of his last days, " as he drew near and came in sight of the city he shed tears over it, and said: if you too had only recognised on this day the way to peace” (Lc 19,41-42). All people of good will today shed tears on the holy city and wish to its inhabitants and to its governors to see the ways of peace. Because the ways followed so far are not those that can lead to peace: the military actions, the siege imposed upon all Palestinian cities and villages, making them big jails, where human dignity is violated, where killing is going on together with demolitions of possessions and houses. All these actions are not a way that leads to peace. On the contrary, all this gives rise to more death and more destruction of the human dignity that leads to more war and more killing and insecurity. Since the liberation of the Basilica of the Nativity, one year ago, nothing has changed for us. The Basilica is liberated, but not the human being, the Palestinians remain under siege, exposed to humiliations, to hunger and to anarchy and the Israelis remain in their insecurity and fear.
And what we live here, in this Holy Land, we begin to see it also in Iraq.
One said that the war of Iraq was a step toward peace. Pope Jean Paul II clearly says that only the means of peace can lead to peace. The international community needs to renew itself in order to find the ways of putting a limit to the use of power by the strong and to save humanity from the threat of new world wars. It is necessary to fight against terrorism, wherever it may be, but the struggle against terrorism starts with a revision of criterias and values. The first step to put an end to terrorism is to start with a self-examination in order to find the possible roots of evil and death in oneself, roots that allow the strong to attack the weak and to impose injustices and deprivations upon peoples. " So now, you kings, come to your senses; you, earthly rulers, learn your lesson. In fear, be submissive to God” (Ps 2, 10-11). To be submissive to God means to make peace with justice. Dealing with other people and nations according to the requirements of peace and justice is the only way to avoid all sorts of terrorism.
Our message to our leaders in this holy land is the following: you are elected to bring peace and security, and therefore to follow the ways that bring peace and security. The ways followed so far did not achieve peace and security, neither to the Israeli nor to the Palestinian people. You, too, listen to what God says. He says peace and justice go together. Change your ways. Take away the fear from your people's hearts. Believe that the peace is possible and that the Palestinians are capable of livng in peace once their freedom and their rights are given back to them.
We celebrate Easter. It means the passage from death to life, from slavery to freedom. I wish to all Christians and to all Palestinians to pass from the present death to a new life, based on a reacquired freedom, on justice, forgiveness, love and reconciliation. I wish to the Jewish people celebrating Passover to pass from rhe present situation of fear to security, based also on justice, forgiveness, love and reconciliation. A new world order should have the same bases: justice, forgiveness, love and reconciliation. Without forgiveness and without God’s presence among men, death will lead only to death, and war will only produce war and terrorism. One cannot; under any pretext, build a new world order while starting with the demolition of the human person in it.
Christ is risen. Yes, He is risen indeed. To all of you I wish an Easter of peace, justice, forgiveness, love and reconciliation.
† Michel Sabbah, Patriarch
Easter, April 2003