Easter Message 12 april 1998

1. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen. He defeated death with death and gave us the power to experience eternal life during our life on earth, through the trials and difficulties which surround us every moment. "Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, you must look for the things that are above, where Christ is" (Col 3:1). In this feast of the Lord's Resurrection, I wish holiness and blessing, to you all, dear brothers and sisters, in all the parts of our diocese, in Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus. 2. In our joy and prayer, we cannot forget the suffering which is increasing for all, day after day, because of the absence of peace. We ask all our faithful in all parts of our diocese to remember in their prayers the difficult situation imposed upon their brothers and sisters in the Palestinian towns, where freedom remains limited and where the siege imposed upon them is reducing life and condemning it to a slow death. The promise of total freedom remains a pure promise. In the meanwhile, the fabric of society is beginning to disintegrate. .Suffering, death and emigration are going on and prisoners are waiting in their prisons to be given back their freedom and dignity. The picture is dark. This is the reality. It is true that there is a brighter side to our spiritual and pastoral life. But the absence of peace is making hard every aspect of our life. Despite that, and also because of that, we say there is no alternative to peace, a true peace based on justice and dignity for every person, every community and people. 3. Total peace given to the Palestinian people is the only way which can pacify the hearts and bring a radical conversion in the minds of both peoples. It is difficult, if not impossible, to begin reconciliation as long as there are injustices imposed upon one party. It is this inequality which gives birth to violence. Total freedom to the Palestinian people is the only way which will put an end to all violence and which will produce security and make possible reconciliation among all.. 4. Our message to our faithful is the following: the Christian in this difficult time must strengthen his faith through his meditation upon the values proclaimed by the Resurrection, in particular the message of hope. The strength of the Christian lies in himself and in his faith. The reasons of his weakness are also in himself. Aggression coming from outside, whoever be the aggressor, is not the cause of his weakness. The Chrisitan is weak when he resigns, when he fills his heart with fear, and forgets the spiritual strength and power of spiritual resistance and the hope he was given. In the presence of God no aggression can shake us. "I shall delight in God, rejoice in him who saved me" (Ps35,9). Brothers and sisters, despite all the trial we are experiencing, we recommend you to be patient, to live up to your faith and to keep your hope strong in God. He will rescue "the poor from the oppressor, the needy from the exploiter" (Ps 35,10). 5. In this week, Moslems celebrate the Adha or feast of the Sacrifice and the Jews celebrate the Pesach. Feasts are moments of prayer and faith which recall to our minds that our destiny is to be brothers and sisters, all of us, Jews, Moslems and Christians. The alternative will only be disputes, violence and bloodshed. Dear brothers and sisters, pray during this Holy Week that every human being may enjoy his full freedom and dignity in his house, on his land and before God. This should be our prayer, on Holy Friday before the mystery of the Cross, and on the day of the Resurrection as we are filled with spiritual joy. Before God we will stand all together, Jews Moslems and Christians. We will pray for all, for the good of all. May God bestow his favors and blessings upon us all. 6. I ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love and strength combined. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen. Happy and holy Easter. Amen.

+Michel Sabbah, Patriarch Jerusalem, Easter 12 April 1998