JERUSALEM, APRIL 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the homily the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, gave today, Easter Sunday, at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.
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“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him”. Mary Magdalene has lost track of Her Lord and is panicked; she and many others as well.
How very many people are seeking the Lord and yet not finding Him in politics, economics, international justice, and constitutions of so-called modern Christian countries. It is just as Mary Magdalene said: “they have taken the Lord, and we do not know where they have put him.”
But for His part God too is seeking to meet up with us, to save us from ourselves by sharing with us His divine nature. Becoming incarnate, He comes into our human story, into the history of our Church, and right into our personal lives. He has found us and we have met Him in our families, in our work, in the small conflicts that entangle us, and in the little sacrifices that we have imposed upon ourselves this Lent. And every time we meet Him, it is Easter.
Where do we meet the Risen one? Jesus told his followers to meet him in Galilee, but Galilee is all the places human beings are to be found: among the poor, the sick, marginalized, the victims of violence, among us sinners and the even among powerful of this world who push Him out from the society and are determined to grant Him no public forum.
But He keeps on coming into our history gratuitously offering His mercy, forgiveness and love. As we meet Him, let His love be believed, lived, celebrated and let our very lives become feasts of love! This is Easter: The historical fact of His resurrection is the guarantee of our own resurrection.
This meeting up the Risen Lord on our journeys gives us believers a special characteristic. It has to be said that we Christians sure do have some nerve! We dare to talk about Easter, joy and the victory over death while at the same time the count of the victims of war, of disease and of natural catastrophes goes up, while each day bombards us with new images of violence and conflict, and in Gaza the Holy Land is cruelly bathed in blood.
We do not forget this. Christ, the one who has promised us victory and peace, knows what suffering is in his heart as well as in his body. Abandoned, rejected in every way, He shared our humanity right to the bitter end, in aguish, in neglect, in the death that He conquered. It is in the midst of failure, physical and moral suffering, periods of solitude, doubt or abandonment, and even as we face death itself that the unheard of announcement of the Resurrection meets us. He comes to meet us there, so we dare to sing our Halleluiah: we have found Him, He is risen and we are risen with Him!
The resurrection is at work each time we choose to give succor and to love his Jesus in our neighbor; each time we prefer His forgiveness to hate, each time that we allow love and peace to claim a place among men.
The resurrection is in the new children of God that are born through baptism and in each time we feel ourselves to be living members of this Church: not dead or dormant members, but living, conscious, faithful and responsible members who are joyful and positive.
Let us look for the signs of His resurrection, like the apostle John entering the tomb. “He saw and he believed” because of the simple clues, the shroud and the head cloth lying in place, sunken in on themselves, empty of the corps that had been wrapped up in them. The resurrection often shows itself through tiny clues, not always through great events. The one who loves in Christ, though he be wounded, sees these signs and shouts “Halleluiah.”
On this Easter day we have to proclaim our Halleluiah, first of all with our families and among ourselves. We must, however, not be ashamed of showing our faith in the Risen Jesus to those on the outside through our witness, our joy and our fraternal charity. Let us have courage to be ourselves in front of God and men!
Have a blessed feast, a safe trip home and happy Easter to all!
+ Fouad Twal, Patriarch