written by Patriarch Michel Sabbah
Christ is risen, indeed He is risen. Let us rejoice and be glad.
We rejoice because Jesus Christ, who triumphed over death, enables us also to triumph over all forms of death in our life. In our life, indeed, the forms of death are many.
Some of the world’s great—along with many of those who have power—are still walking in the ways of death. They are imposing many wars on our Middle East and on our Holy Land, the land of the Resurrection. They see nothing but death as a way to life. The strong in our land continue to see the death imposed on the Palestinian people as their only way to life and security.
This is not the way of God nor the meaning of the new life given by the Resurrection. The Resurrection means the elimination of all kinds of sin, slavery and death. It is teaching humanity a new freedom, the freedom with which Christ liberated us, to be able to live, love and build the earth for all its peoples, and to make this Holy Land a home for God, and a place of life, freedom, sovereignty and dignity for all its inhabitants.
The Resurrection took place in our land. The Resurrection says that ways of death are not ways of God. That’s why the Apostle Paul tells us: "Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, you must look for the things that
are above" (Col 3:1).
A look above, to heaven: men and women need this to remain a follower of life and love. As we easily walk on earth today, not looking up, our lives become a journey in the "valley of death and its shadows" (cf. Psalm 23:4; Job 3:5). God made humankind to live, not to die: “For God did not make death, he takes no pleasure in destroying the living" (Wisdom 1:13). This is why Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose from the dead: to bring life back to humanity, to release humanity from the "valley of death and its shadows" so no one remains a death-maker for his brothers and sisters.
Christ set us free, so that we should remain free (Galatians 5:1).
These words are meant for all—little and great alike—especially for the great who allow themselves to oppress people, and to oppress us in our land and homes.
Glorious Resurrection is a feast of life free of all servitudes. Before God, we are all children of God, and children of the life and freedom that God has granted us. Resurrection is a reminder to everyone that a person’s glory abides in one’s freedom and the freedom of his sisters and brothers. The Palestinian people are here on their land and in their homes, demanding their full freedom. But the powerful want them to be subject, devoid of the dignity that God has bestowed on them. This is what they offer them now in what is called the "Deal of the Century," which is only a deal of "permanent bondage," far from God’s love for all of God’s children, far from the equal dignity that God has bestowed upon all of the Beloved’s children.
We celebrate the Glorious Feast of Resurrection, the feast of the renewal of humankind’s encounter with the grace of God. It happened here in our land. A new light in our land: first a call to the inhabitants of this land, then from our land to all peoples, to be people of life, no one imposing death on another, no one imposing death on us.
This is the day which God has made, a day for us to rejoice and be glad (Ps 118: 24).
Our land awaits those who, together, create this new day again, so we may truly rejoice and be glad in the land of the Resurrection. As we celebrate Easter today, we look to our extended family in all the Churches around the world, celebrating the joy of the Resurrection. We ask you to pray for us, so that the foresights of the prophets may come true and our land become a land of salvation and Resurrection for its people and for all the peoples of the earth.
We appeal to the international community to do its duty, to dare to apply the law of «life» to all, equally, including our land. And you, the strong of the earth, listen to the cries of the oppressed, help them build their life and freedom so
that everyone of us will become the people of the Resurrection and the image of God’s glory on earth. "So now, you kings, come to your senses, you earthly rulers, learn your lesson! In fear be submissive to Yahweh" (Psalm 2:10)!
Before the Lord of the Resurrection, we all triumph over death, and all peoples become makers of Resurrection, makers of life, freedom and dignity for themselves and all their brothers and sisters. No human being, however great or strong, is allowed to impose death on another in order to secure one’s own life. The lives of each of us—little or great, weak or strong—depend on the life of our brother and sister. God created us in God’s image and likeness, great and free, in God’s own image. This is what the feast of the Resurrection tells us. It announces that we can be good and givers of life and freedom to each other.
Christ is risen. Indeed, He is risen.
Happy and Holy Easter.