LATIN PATRIARCATE – JERUSALEM
12 april 1998
1. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen. He defeated death with
death and gave us the power to experience eternal life during our
life on earth, through the trials and difficulties which surround us every
moment. “Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, you must look
for the things that are above, where Christ is” (Col 3:1).
In this feast of the Lord’s Resurrection, I wish holiness and
blessing, to you all, dear brothers and sisters, in all the parts of our
diocese, in Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus.
2. In our joy and prayer, we cannot forget the suffering which
is increasing for all, day after day, because of the absence of peace.
We ask all our faithful in all parts of our diocese to remember in their
prayers the difficult situation imposed upon their brothers and sisters
in the Palestinian towns, where freedom remains limited and where
the siege imposed upon them is reducing life and condemning it to a slow
death. The promise of total freedom remains a pure promise. In the
meanwhile, the fabric of society is beginning to disintegrate. .Suffering,
death and emigration are going on and prisoners are waiting in their prisons
to be given back their freedom and dignity.
The picture is dark. This is the reality. It is true that there
is a brighter side to our spiritual and pastoral life. But the absence
of peace is making hard every aspect of our life. Despite that, and
also because of that, we say there is no alternative to peace, a true peace
based on justice and dignity for every person, every community and people.
3. Total peace given to the Palestinian people is the only way
which can pacify the hearts and bring a radical conversion in the minds
of both peoples. It is difficult, if not impossible, to begin reconciliation
as long as there are injustices imposed upon one party. It is this inequality
which gives birth to violence. Total freedom to the Palestinian people
is the only way which will put an end to all violence and which will produce
security and make possible reconciliation among all.
4. Our message to our faithful is the following: the Christian
in this difficult time must strengthen his faith through his meditation
upon the values proclaimed by the Resurrection, in particular the message
of hope. The strength of the Christian lies in himself and in his
faith. The reasons of his weakness are also in himself. Aggression coming
from outside, whoever be the aggressor, is not the cause of his weakness.
The Chrisitan is weak when he resigns, when he fills his heart with fear,
and forgets the spiritual strength and power of spiritual resistance and
the hope he was given. In the presence of God no aggression can shake us.
“I shall delight in God, rejoice in him who saved me” (Ps35,9). Brothers
and sisters, despite all the trial we are experiencing, we recommend
you to be patient, to live up to your faith and to keep your hope strong
in God. He will rescue ”the poor from the oppressor, the needy from the
exploiter” (Ps 35,10).
5. In this week, Moslems celebrate the Adha or feast of the Sacrifice
and the Jews celebrate the Pesach. Feasts are moments of prayer and faith
which recall to our minds that our destiny is to be brothers and sisters,
all of us, Jews, Moslems and Christians. The alternative will only be disputes,
violence and bloodshed.
Dear brothers and sisters, pray during this Holy Week that
every human being may enjoy his full freedom and dignity in his house,
on his land and before God. This should be our prayer, on Holy Friday
before the mystery of the Cross, and on the day of the Resurrection as
we are filled with spiritual joy. Before God we will stand all together,
Jews Moslems and Christians. We will pray for all, for the good of all.
May God bestow his favors and blessings upon us all.
6. I ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love and
strength combined. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen. Happy and holy
+Michel Sabbah, Patriarch
Jerusalem, Easter 12 April 1998