Homily of Mgr Pierbattista Pizzaballa for Easter Sunday 2022

By: Pierbattista Pizzaballa - Published: April 17 Sun, 2022

Homily of Mgr Pierbattista Pizzaballa for Easter Sunday 2022 Available in the following languages:

Dearest brothers and sisters,

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Every day of Holy Week, we have gathered here around the empty Tomb of Christ. Today we are here again to celebrate at last His triumph over death, and to proclaim once more to the entire world that death and its bindings no longer have any power.

Now we wish to ask ourselves what we have understood and retained from the many significant gestures that have accompanied us during these past days. Everything speaks to us of feast, of celebration, of something different and particular, joyful and unique. Easter in Jerusalem is certainly also this. Today in Jerusalem, as in any other part of the world, the Mystery par excellence, the core of our faith – that is the Resurrection – is placed before our consciousness. The Apostle Paul reminds us: “If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1 Cor 15:14). Today Jesus asks us the same question he asked Martha, which we heard a few days ago: "I am the resurrection and the life... Do you believe this?" (Jn 11:25-26).

What have we done with this Mystery? How much has the consciousness that Christ is risen and alive changed and determined our existence? To what degree is that which we proclaim an experience that we are truly aware of?

Perhaps we have become so accustomed to the idea of the Resurrection that we do not realize how troubling the significance of this empty tomb is. Yet, if we think about it, it is insanity, by human standards, to believe that there can be a Resurrection.

Even today, there is no lack of modern Areopagi (cf. Acts 17:32), that is, of different contexts where we Christians are welcomed and listened to, where our works and services are appreciated and desired. But at the same time, there is no lack of places where the proclamation of the Risen Christ is neither understood nor desired, it is of no interest and can even appear like a nuisance.

Yet, this is our faith. This is our proclamation: “He is not here, for he is risen as he said; come see the place where he lay” (Mt 28:6).

It is a Mystery that our mind cannot comprehend or explain. We can only welcome it and keep it in our hearts, with trust and love. “Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed” (Jn 20:8). "Seeing" in John's Gospel means "experiencing." It is a seeing that encompasses all the senses, not just eyesight. One also sees with the heart. With a heart full of trust, here we bend our knees before the mystery of this empty Tomb. Together with the evangelist Mark, we say, "I believe, Lord! Help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24). Here we affirm that, in spite of our limitations and insecurities, yes, we believe!

We believe that Easter is the final, definitive intervention of God in history, for everyone. It is the most unexpected and the most surprising intervention. We believe that after having saved us from oblivion, from slavery, from exile, God also had to save us from one last enemy, which is death – that is, sin. We believe and today we proclaim that death is every place where God is absent, where man is left without a relationship with Him: that is the true failure of life. Life, in fact, is not meaningless when we lack something or when we experience pain, but when we do not have the Lord, because without Him we are alone. Death is found where God is no longer the Source of life, where we are unable to make room for Him.

Today we believe and announce that God the Father, in the risen Christ, has made room in the life of each of us, forever. The resurrection is the breaking of His life into ours. Today, we say that we believe this. That this fullness of relationship that exists eternally between the Father and the Son, is -ever since that Easter morning - also for us. That there is no place in our existence, in our history, that cannot potentially be God's house, a place of encounter with Him. There is no space in the life of each of us where He cannot be present.

This awareness does not exempt us from experiencing trial, pain, darkness. All this remains, but it is no longer a condemnation: each of these situations can be penetrated by the confidence that God is with us, that He can draw life from them too.

Let us think for a moment of all the situations of death that surround us. One look around is enough to find reasons to worry and feel overwhelmed by death, by its victories and its sting (cf. 1 Cor 15:55). Let us think of the terrible conditions in which many people of the world find themselves today, whether in the Holy Land, in the Ukraine, in Yemen, in some countries of Africa and Asia... The life that we celebrate here today is elsewhere despised and humiliated every day with cynicism and arrogance. But also in each one of us, in our relationships, in our affections, in our communities, in our daily lives, we do not fail to experience death, pain and loneliness. Let us also think of the tragedies that the pandemic has left behind.

Let us not, however, confuse the Resurrection with recovery, with a return to the normality of life, or even with the resolution of conflicts of any kind. The Resurrection is not, in short, a generic symbol of peace and harmony to which we can refer. As we have said, it is the breaking of God's life into ours, the source of forgiveness, the answer to our loneliness, the fulfillment of God's desire for unity and love for man. Only the encounter with the Risen Christ can give us true resurrection, a full life, which makes us stand in the world with the passion and strength of free and redeemed persons. In today's second reading from the Letter to the Colossians, in v. 2, there is an expression that in the Latin version reads: quae sursum sunt sápite. Sápite! “Have the flavor of heavenly things”. This means that although we must indeed be rooted here on this earth, immersed and fully incarnated in it, passionately loving both this world that God has given us, and the people who inhabit it, we must also have in us a different flavor: the flavor of the Resurrection, of those who do not belong to death but to a freedom that cannot be taken away from them, of those who belong to the Father of Life, before whom death is powerless.

Let us not retreat or lock ourselves in our fears. Let us not allow death and its subjects to frighten us. That would be to deny with our lives our faith in the Resurrection!

Let us limit ourselves to venerating this empty tomb. "Go and tell the disciples and Peter that He is going before you..." (Mk 16:7). The Resurrection is the announcement of a new joy bursting forth in the world that cannot remain enclosed in this place, but which, from it, must today reach everyone, everywhere in the world, in every corner of the earth.

From here, then, from Jerusalem, in front of this empty tomb, we announce to this Church and to the whole world the proclamation of true peace, which has gushed forth from here and which we want to reach every corner of the earth.

Happy Easter!

      †Pierbattista Pizzaballa

                                                                          Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem