Easter Message from the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem
“This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are witnesses.” (Acts ch.2 v.32)
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! A Happy & Holy Easter to you all!
This year the celebration of Easter falls in our Churches on either April 16th or 23rd. The close proximity of these two dates should strengthen the solidarity of our celebrations and hopefully, urge us to remember that we all are witnesses to the Resurrection. We all proclaim and say: Jesus died and raised in glory. He defeated death, sin and the power of evil, and He gave all human beings of good will to be as He stronger than death, sin and all power of evil. This is the mighty miracle which God performed among us in our Holy Land and wanted us to be His witnesses. Jesus is risen, He truly is risen and He is with us until the end of days (cf. Mt 28: 20).
If we go back in spirit to the members of the Early Church and meditate on their witnessing to the glorious Resurrection of the Lord, then we have to pause and to ask ourselves: are we true witnesses to the Resurrection today as they were? Do we demonstrate in our daily lives that we believe in the Resurrection and that Jesus is still alive and at work through His Church in the world and in our Holy Land where he lived, died and resurrected? Our witness to the Risen Jesus must be a clear challenging love to all with whom we come in contact.
We know that our life in this Land is full of hardships and frustrating. It seems now a days that we face an unknown path or impasse in the political life, between the new Israeli Government and the new Palestinian Government. Here we call first upon the International Community that decided to boycott the Palestinian people: it is not permitted to boycott a people on whom oppressions and injustices were and are imposed, while the international community remained so far paralyzed in putting an end to these oppressions, and therefore this paralysis gave birth to violence, terrorism and the humiliation of the human person. Instead of boycotting, we appeal to the International Community to seize the opportunity of this phase in history of the conflict in order to try seriously to put an end to the suffering of our land and of all its inhabitants. We call upon it to transform our land in a land in which shines the glory of the human being liberated from all kind of oppression and fear, where the glory and the voice of God appeared to man.
We appeal to our leaders, knowing they are facing difficult decisions. If a sincere will exists, there will be capacity and power to overcome all obstacles, in order to reach security, peace and justice to all, Palestinians and Israelis alike. We call upon the Israelis Authorities so to see that unilateral measures are another aspect of the conflict and the permanence of the sufferings for both peoples. Therefore, we urge them to take the right measures to liberate the human being, Israeli or Palestinian, and to see in the Palestinian Authority a help and a partner to construct a peace, fo which the building is not something impossible.
We would greet our Sisters and Brothers across the world, wishing a1l of you a truly Blessed Easter. You too are called to be witnesses to the risen Jesus. You bear with us the responsibility of reconciliation in this Holy Land based on truth, justice, and equality among peoples and persons. We are grateful for all your efforts and solidarity. But we ask you to stop a while with us, in this Holy Week, before the mystery of love contained in this Holy Season and ask yourselves: did you do all you can in order to bring back justice and human dignity to those human beings and believers living around the Holy Places, the place of the roots of your faith and the place of the Redemption of the world? Ask governments: are they unable to help bring an end to the sufferings of the two peoples in this land? Ask the Media in your country: do they intend through what they say to bring life, love, and trust among the two people of this land? Ask and ask yourselves about the so called “Security or Isolating Wall” and the numerous Check Points and the crushed dignity of the human being in the land of the Redemption and love?
Easter is the time to proclaim the strength, the joy and the hope of the Resurrection. It is the time in which we welcome the fullness of life promised by Jesus (cf Jn 10: 10). Sisters and brothers across the world, daughters and sons in our Holy Land, we wish you a glorious feast of the Resurrection, full of joy and hope, that renews your strength and makes you able to build a new life in your society waiting for people who can build it and give it a new life, based on justice, peace, love and reconciliation.
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!
Happy and Holy Easter to all!
Jerusalem, 12 April 2006
Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem
Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem
Patriarch Michel Sabbah, R.C. Latin
Patriarch Torkom I Manooghian, Armenian Orthodox
Fr. Pierbattista Pizziballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox
Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian-Orthodox
Archbishop Abouna Grima, Ethiopian Orthodox
Archbishop Paul Sayyah, Maronite
Bishop Riah Abu el-Assal, Anglican
Bishop Mounib Younan, Lutheran
Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian-Catholic
Rev. Raphael Minassian, Armenian Catholic
Archimandrite Mtanios Haddad, Greek Catholic