JERUSALEM, MARCH 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The risen Christ brings joy and peace to a world plagued by conflict, but he also brings a mission, said Christian leaders from Jerusalem.
Thirteen Christian leaders, including Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant representatives, affirmed this in a traditional message for Easter from Jerusalem.
“We do not underestimate the burdens of so many of our faithful today from the continuing violence and acts of terrorism that surround them, and of which we all are victims, in the West Bank, in Gaza and in Israeli society,” the leaders wrote. “Nevertheless, the risen Lord reminds us and tells us that we have a role, and we have to change the present situation, through the power and strength that he gives us.”
The Christian leaders recalled how after the Crucifixion, the apostles were plagued by fear.
Yet, “fear, weakness and locked doors could not keep Jesus from his disciples … then or now! He appeared to them glorious and renewed their faith,” they wrote. “He shows them his hands and his side to convince them of his identity as the one recently crucified. So their fear and doubt are replaced by joy.
“Today we, too, we live in fear and perplexity. We, too, need to see the risen Lord, in order to take away perplexity and fear because of all that is happening around us and in us, so to replace our fear and anxiety with peace and joy.”
The Christian leaders affirmed, however, that the message of Easter is about more than joy and peace: “The new joy is a mission that the apostles have to bring to the world. Jesus sent them to the troubled world as a whole.”
“Having told the disciples of the spiritual power he is giving them, Jesus then makes it clear that the Church has a specific function in the world to explain and convince people that men and women have a responsibility to confess their sins,” they added. “If they truly repent and believe then their sins are forgiven.”
The Christian leaders said it is this same message that they bring to the land of Christ’s birth.
They said: “we have to take away the many burdens on people’s lives caused by occupation, bloodshed, violence and killings and mutual hatred, as well as the wrong ways followed so far to reach security. In all these situations of death we demonstrate that we are the apostles of the Resurrection, with its joy and hope.
“We have to tell the people that the present situation in which we are living is part of the world’s sin, but it must also be part of the new power given to us by the risen Lord. Hence we invite them to do penance, to admit their involvement in the sin of the world, to be forgiven and to become able to see the right ways that lead to security and peace.”
The Christian representatives affirmed that their message is for the leaders of the conflict-plagued area.
“The ways used until today to reach security must be changed,” they contended. “If not, we will remain in the same positions in a permanent cycle of violence. For you, leaders of this land, we ask that God give you light and strength to take away from it death and fear, so as to restore in it peace with security.”
The Jerusalem leaders’ final message was for friends from around the world: “Thank you for your prayerful support but, please, we would ask that you recall that your faith in Christ has its origin in this Holy Land. You have to assume your responsibilities here.
“You too are responsible with us for restoring in it the joy of the Resurrection so as to lift the burdens of death, hatred, occupation, security walls and the fear of taking the risk of peace.
“Do whatever you can and please involve your governments too, to assume their responsibilities for the peace of this land.”
“Pray for us as well as for a just and comprehensive peace in this land,” the leaders appealed. “Pray that fear, the main obstacle for peace, will disappear. Pray […] that this land of the resurrection may enjoy the new life to which God has called it.”