NAZARETH – Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa solemnly entered the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth this Sunday, October 16, 2016 as the new Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate. Below is the speech the Archbishop addressed to the faithful, many of them came afterwards to greet him and present their wishes.

Your Excellencies, dear Priests, Men and Women Religious, Brothers and Sisters,

May the Lord give you peace!

It is particularly significant for me to come back to Nazareth, the home of Mary our mother, the place of the “Yes” that changed human history.

I have been here many times, as you know. I am not new to this holy place, and to this Christian community that has always lived here.

And yet in this place today, is a beginning of something new for me and also for all of you, for our entire community. Many times in these recent months, I thought of the “yes” that Mary gave in this place. I come here today to ask through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that all of us, our families, and our Christian community, be given the gift of strength and humility, to fully live the will of God, and to truly live our “yes” to the Lord.

I will not repeat what I have recently said on other occasions.

As I mentioned, the life of the Church in the Holy Land is not something new to me. However, I am entering a new phase of my life and my ministry, and I realize that I have a lot to learn. The cordial welcome I have so far received, comforts me and encourages me in the journey that lies ahead, and the way by which our Church must move forward.

Today’s Gospel invites us to pray constantly, to stay in relationship with the Lord, to live the expectation of His coming with faith, confident of his presence and his intervention in our history. And Nazareth is a concrete example of how this is possible. In coming to Nazareth, we affirm our desire, to deliver into the hands of God, our lives, our history, our families and especially our Church community. It is from Nazareth that everything must begin again. Like Mary at the proclamation of the angel, we do not understand everything, we do not know everything, but we trust in Him, with the certainty that “nothing is impossible with God.”

We must not only look at the problems and difficulties, divisions and tensions that sometimes seem to overwhelm us every day in our life situations; whether familial, social, political and even ecclesiastical. Let us look up to Christ, to let him enlighten our decisions and our actions, to change our way of life in this sometimes hostile world.

If we start with the problems, we will never get over our fears and frustrations. If we rely on Christ, we will be able to build a strong community. This is the lesson that comes from Nazareth: to believe that even in this world and in our reality, we can possibly build together, something beautiful and positive, to live the will of God and remain fully available to his plan.

It is in this spirit that I place myself completely and wholeheartedly at the service of the ecclesial community, fully confident in the support of Providence and your help. Indeed I know of your generosity and fervent desire to serve our Church.

May the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, give us the strength for the journey and support us all, so that upon His return, He will find a land rich in faith.

May the Lord bless you!

+ Pierbattista

Cover photo: ©Daphna Tal and Israeli Ministry of Tourism

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