Patriarch: Fix Gaze on Jesus

Offers Meditations for Holy Week

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2009 ( The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem is offering a meditation on Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, inviting Christians to relive the event of our salvation this Holy Week.

Archbishop Fouad Twal affirmed this in his Easter message, published on his patriarchate’s Web site.
In this Holy Week, he said, «God gives us the grace to relive the event of our salvation: with Jesus, and in Jesus, we pass from death to life, we strip off the old man in order to clothe ourselves with the new man.»

This week is not simply about historical events, the archbishop emphasized, but rather «in these feasts we find ourselves on the inside of the drama, the same drama that is being played out within us.»

«We are participants in the mystery of salvation,» he affirmed, «and the mystery of salvation is accomplished in us!»

The prelate explained, «This is because we recognize ourselves very well in each one of the characters of the Pascal event: in Jesus and his suffering, those same sufferings that each one of us must undergo in the course of our lives: hunger, betrayal, exhaustion, injustice.»

We recognize ourselves in Peter, he noted, «so impulsive and generous, but ever so vulnerable; in Judas and the apostles; in Pilate and in the chief priests, who judge and strike out without mercy; in the crowd that now is cheering and then roaring in its hate; in the Virgin Mary, whose heart is pierced by a sword, but who accompanies Jesus along his way of the cross and stays by his side in the most dramatic moments in a total and confident abandonment.»

«In the course of our lives,» he added, «we are in turn each one of these characters.»

Way of the Cross

Archbishop Twal pointed out that «the One who attracts us most of all, who touches us, moves us and transforms what is inside of us, this is Jesus the Christ.»

«During all this Holy Week,» he urged, «we must never allow ourselves to take our eyes off of him.»

The prelate described the scene: «Here we have Jesus, the Messiah, the one who we cheered so much just a few days ago on Palm Sunday, who staggers out of Pilate’s house bearing upon his shoulders the heavy cross.

«His path moves through those narrow, winding and steep streets of Jerusalem. We follow this scene, but from a distance; in this way no one notices our presence.

«We are too afraid of ending up like him, suffering and dying. The soldiers shout and strike the Lord in order to stir up within him the last dregs of energy that he has left. […]

«Three times he falls, but struggles up again and just barely manages to continue on his ‘via crucis.’ He finally arrives at Golgotha, and there is crucified between two criminals.»


Meditating on Christ’s crucifixion, the archbishop affirmed, «Our hearts are torn between compassion and revulsion.»

«How things have turned around,» he noted, «that this Lord here, who so many times showed his power in words, lets these men have their way with him and stands there mute ‘like a sheep before its shearers.'»

He continued: «Seeing Jesus on the cross really puts our faith to the test. He performed so many signs during his public ministry, but this time, where is the sign? What can be the meaning of all this? […]

«Then he expires. He is dead. It is finished.»


Archbishop Twal continued the meditation with a reflection on Holy Saturday: «It is all emptiness. The Lord is dead. Our fondest hopes have taken flight and departed.»

We gather with the apostles, he observed, «and we brood over our sadness, our disappointment but also our shame and our guilt at not having been up to the task.»

Mary is our only comfort, affirmed the prelate, who affirmed that she suffers, but is also at peace.

He continued: «She invites us to believe, to hope against all hope. Jesus can neither be deceived nor deceive us. The truth will come to light. […]

«This is the day of ‘why’s,’ but still no answer comes. Still there is Mary whose mother’s heart beats with an unutterable premonition. Mary believes with her whole heart, with her whole soul and with all her strength. We do as she does.»

The archbishop turned his reflection to Resurrection Sunday, saying: Here are Peter and John racing to the tomb. We follow them.

«Our hearts are pounding in our chests. What has happened?»

«There is the shroud,» he said, «empty on the inside, in the very same place where the corpse had been lain; there is the cloth that surrounded the Lord’s head, collapsed in on itself.»

«The Lord, who was dead, could he be alive?» he added.
We hurry to Galilee, the prelate affirmed, and the Lord is there! He continued: «Yes, it is really him! He is different and yet the same. Yes, it is really us! The same, and yet so different. […] Yes, Christ is risen!»

Archbishop Twal concluded his meditation, affirming that «the adventure now continues,» or rather, «it now begins again, all new!»

«Salvation has been accomplished and must be proclaimed to all men,» he said.

«And participating in our joy,» he noted, «Jesus says to each one: ‘I am with you always, until the end of the age.'»

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