Dr. Bernard Sabella
Jerusalem, April 14, 2006
Easter is a message of the confluence of polarity and the circulatory nature of life. As we celebrate it we are reminded of life and death, of the strength of the Father and the weakness of the Crucified Son, of evil and goodness, of sin and redemption, of hope and despair, of cruelty and kindness. But most of all we are reminded of the fact that our earthly life has both a beginning and an end and that without Resurrection the two will never meet and that life’s beginning and end would have no meaning except as mere existence. Resurrection is transformation and transition. It is reaffirmed as each generation succeeds its predecessor and keeps on with the faith of the forefathers and with the traditions of the community.
Today, as I walked with other Palestinian Christians and pilgrims from all over the globe on the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem to commemorate the events of Good Friday, I looked back upon my childhood when year after year grey-haired people from my community prayerfully carried the cross of Jesus through the Fourteen Stations of the Cross. Most of those faces from my youth are long gone, but I can point them out in photos taken in the 1950s and 1960s that I have collected over the years. As I looked around me today on the Via Dolorosa -- the Way of the Cross -- I realized that I and other community members are the continuity of the grey haired people of past times. Most of us have grey hair now and we are in the sixties and seventies of our lives. As we struggled with the heavy wooden cross, younger members serving as scouts or choir members looked upon us. These are the grey-haired people of tomorrow. They will carry on with the tradition as we are doing today.
This continuity of the community as it reaffirms its faith's traditions reflects the essence of Resurrection. A generation goes and a generation comes and Resurrection knits them and their identity together. Resurrection then is hope and it is a reminder that even with individuals passing away, the community as it commemorates collectively, year after year, the story of Crucifixion and Resurrection is celebrating and affirming its own presence and continuity through the ages.
Easter comes this year in the Holy Land with political and economic problems overburdening all of us in this troubled land, but particularly troubling our Palestinian people. There is no peace and no genuine willingness to engage in a serious soul searching in pursuit of a just and lasting solution to the perennial Palestinian-Israeli conflict. All of us seem obsessed with particular interests and short-term objectives as we seem oblivious to higher values and joint long-term objectives. The wall Israel is building for its supposed “security” in the West Bank is besieging Palestinians in their villages, towns, refugee camps and other localities. The wall separates, divides, subjugates and disconnects while what is sought is reconciliation, unity, liberation and connection. Without these there can be no real peace and no real security for anyone in the Holy Land.
As Palestinian Christians our prayers are that the celebration of Resurrection this year would be a reminder to all of the importance of placing the universality of humanity above the particulars of daily existence. That entombing and subjugating one people by another will neither lead to liberation, nor to resurrection. That if each of our religious and national communities genuinely want to reaffirm their identities through recreating and living traditions of their faith, culture and history, then we should all do so with respect towards other traditions. Only thus can we enjoy the fruits of the circulatory nature of life and only then our rich religious traditions will have been used for reconciliation rather than strife.
May all of you have a Blessed and Happy Easter