The night of nights has passed and, and as was sung in the Exultet, “the light of the Eternal King vanquished the darkness of the world.” The day after the vigil, Easter is joyfully proclaimed by the whole Church to the world. The mass presided over by the Apostolic Administrator on April 16 at the Holy Sepulcher for the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection was a solemn entry and a mass unlike any other. The event that changed changed Jesus’ story forever, as well as the history of humanity and the human heart. Christ is risen and the faithful were waiting for him; they desired him strongly, so much so that many had gathered within the walls of the Holy Sepulcher, even though they were packed together tightly among the crowd and the ruckus. At 10 a.m., the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, with the priests of the Latin Patriarchate, processed in and led the celebration that took place before Christ’s empty tomb.
“Today, Jesus also asks us the same question he asked Martha, and that we heard a few days ago: “I am the resurrection and the life… do you believe this?” (Jn 11: 25-26). This is how Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa began his homily. He then went on to explain that with his resurrection, God wanted to save us from the last enemy: death. Death is “where there is no God,” death is in the “dire situation of the populations of Syria, Iraq, Yemen,” in what happened “to our Coptic brothers, once again, a week ago, who were tremendously massacred in Egypt, Tanta and Alexandria,” “in the wounds of the geography of our Holy Land.” “But if we really believe in the resurrection, if we believe in the power of the Spirit, the power of the Word, if we entrust all of these situations to him,” continued Pizzaballa, “if we turn them into questions, prayers, shouts, then these same situations will become a path of life.”
Among the local Christians, there were those who wanted to spend an Easter closer to Jesus and those who traveled in search of their own vocation, and the faithful who were packed tightly in the basilica were from different backgrounds. Pablo, an Argentinian pilgrim said, “Thanks to the Franciscan friars, I was able to have a different experience, a strong experience: I experienced all of the celebrations with them and this has allowed me to experience Easter more deeply. Without Jesus, I am nothing; I need his resurrection.”
“Today is a day of great joy,” said Gabrielle from France, Bonnie from India and Alona from Romania, in different ways but with them same smile.
At the end of the mass, the traditional rite of the Easter Sunday at the Holy Sepulcher was complete. Around the restored Edicule, the Gospel of the Resurrection was proclaimed, while the candles that people held burned, among the joyful cheers of Arab women, singing the “Hallelujah,” the amazement of Mary, of St. Thomas, of the disciples of Emmaus, of the women at the Sepulcher at seeing Jesus alive has become the wonderment of all people who listen. The Gospel was proclaimed, in four different locations, representing of the four cardinal points. The extraordinary event that changed the fate of humanity from there, from Jerusalem, has arrived to all corners of the earth.