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Patriarch Emeritus

Pastoral Letters



Easter Message 2004  

Brothers and Sisters
Christ is risen. Indeed he is risen! 

1.  I address to you this message as Easter comes to renew our minds and hearts with its spiritual gifts and to give us a new strength so as to persevere in conducting our duties in our society and our Church. It also inspires us to serve and love all our brothers and sisters to whatever religion or nationality they belong. Christ’s commandment is indeed to love and to see in every human being the face of God and to love him as God himself loves him.

To all our parishioners, I address my sincere wishes for renewal and perseverance in service and love, which is the perfection of any human being as it is the fullness of all laws. The glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ is our resurrection as well and it fills us with the joy and the strength of a new life. It makes us the “new man” full of hope and love, as St Paul says: “A hope which will not let us down, because the love of God has been poured in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Ro 5:5).  

2.  As we celebrate the feast of the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord, we turn our eyes to the Holy places and to the people who live around them. We see with deep sadness a situation of death not of life, a situation in which one does not know what to do as he goes searching for life in the darkness of death, oppression, and bloodshed.

We live days in which reason darkened; we are abandoned to “human madness” that sees solutions only in bloodshed and in crushing the human being. Therefore towns and villages are aggressed, occupied and reoccupied; many are killed while others are taken prisoners. At the same time siege and oppression on towns and villages are still going on.

The way out? The leaders should come back to reason and consider that all human beings are equal, whether Palestinian or Israeli. So when violence stops on one side it should stop on the other as well. The leaders should consider the results of their policy during these last three years since killing and demolition could not bring the so much desired security. As thousands were killed the people keeps claiming for his freedom. Within the frame of violence, the more are killed the more people will keep asking for freedom. The way out is to listen to the voice of the oppressed and to give them back what they are claiming for, freedom. It is simply a lesson to be learned from all the past events.

It is high time for the leaders to come back to reason and to reconsider what they have done in order to avoid for themselves and for their people the sin of more bloodshed, and the permanence of insecurity. Let them enter the true path of security which consists in peaceful hearts and friendly relations. The hostile hearts of today will become friendly with a secure protection when freedom and land will be given back to them. The walls built today will fall only when the barriers in the hearts will fall; then security will flourish without walls or any power of destruction.

We ask God to open all the hearts to the grace of Easter that will strengthen and enables all of us to pass from death to life as we make the new history of this Holy Land.

3.  To our faithful who live under siege and find themselves behind the walls, we say: as you resist oppression accompany all these events with prayers and patience, renew your hope through the joy and the power of the Resurrection, do not submit to the logic of hatred but keep the freedom of your spirit so that love may remain constant in you and become a source of redemption for you and for everyone in this Holy Land. To those of our faithful in the different parishes of the diocese who are not under siege we say: accompany with prayer your brothers and sisters and all the inhabitants of this land in this bloody conflict. May God have mercy on us and give this land and its two peoples security, peace and a new life. The prophet said: “I shall give them a single heart and I shall put a new spirit in them. I shall remove the heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh” (Ez 11:19; 36:26). We ask God and our Risen Lord to give us such a new heart, so that Easter will be a resurrection for us also and a passage from death to secure and peaceful life, and a journey with God. Amen.

Happy and Holy Easter.           

+Michel Sabbah, Patriarchch
Jerusalem, 5 April, 2004 .


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