Easter Sunday: See the Empty Tomb like Peter and John | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Easter Sunday: See the Empty Tomb like Peter and John

Sunday, March 31. Over 1000 people, according to the police, assisted at the Solemn Mass of Easter in the Holy Sepulchre, presided over by the Latin Patriarch, His Beatitude Fouad Twal. Most of those present were pilgrims who had come for the occasion, while the Arab faithful of Jerusalem came together in the joy of the resurrection at the parish mass at Saint Saviour Monastery.

After his solemn entry, the patriarch concelebrated the mass together with Monsignor Kamal Bathish and Monsignor Ilario Antoniazzi, ordained this past March 16th as the new Bishop of Tunis, and several other priests from the Holy Land or who were here on pilgrimage.

This Easter, the quietest for years according to the police, the mass was celebrated in Latin in keeping with tradition, and the songs were animated by the choir of the Magnificat.

After having read the Gospel himself, the patriarch spoke in his homily of the necessity for faith. "The empty tomb exactly as we see it here today, is the way of faith that begins. This faith, our faith, is supported by the witness of the apostles. We are asked to believe without seeing: "Blessed are those who believe without having seen." (John 20:29)

(To read the patriarch's homily in full on the Patriarchate site, click here.)

But in Jerusalem, Christians are able to see in our turn the empty tomb, to allow ourselves to be taken by the "real absence" of Christ, whom death could not retain — a unique experience, as the patriarch emphasized.

With all the joy of Easter, the Custody of the Holy Land does not forget its brothers in Syria, sorely tried like the rest of the population by the bloody conflict in the country. It was with the emotion that the friars received the Easter greetings, and some news, from the Franciscans in Syria. In one sole sentence, Father Halim Noujaim wrote: "This Calvary seems endless" and concluded "Once again, a joyous Easter to you".

As the Custody is particularly united in prayer for the situation in Syria, it cannot but make its own the words of Pope Francis in his Urbi et Orbi message this morning, calling for peace in all countries in conflict, notably for the Middle East, with these words:

And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world.
Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?

Carried by faith, all the friars of the Custody wish the readers of these pages (and others too!) a beautiful, holy Easter feast.

See also the Franciscan Media Center video – click here