Bishop Dr. Munib Younan's Easter Message 2019

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Bishop Dr. Munib Younan's Easter Message 2019

By Bishop Dr. Munib Younan in Jerusalem

The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Romans 8:24-25
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Alleluia, Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Given the enormity of events happening around the world today, I was quite reluctant to send an Easter message this year.

Recent elections in my country have renewed a sense of despair among Palestinian people. We are asking: Will justice ever come? Is there a future for us based on a just peace? How long must we suffer until we can live together in this country? In Jerusalem we continue to experience daily struggles, including continued conflict over the Haram Al-Sharif.

The division among the Palestinian people seems to have no end.

Of course, political and racial divisions are increasing across the world, not only here. We see today that in many countries, elections are bringing more people interested in promoting their narrow national interests over and above the interests of humanity.

Populism and extremism continue to rise. The attacks on the mosques in New Zealand are just one horrific example of the hatred that has been spreading like a virus in our world.

And then, at the beginning of this Holy Week, the world watched as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned.

As I watched that beautiful church burn, I thought:It feels as if things are going the wrong way in the world, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Who am I to influence world events? Who is the Church, to make a difference? Can Christians change the course of the world?

But then, I woke up from my frustration, and I remembered that Jesus surely had the same feelings on Good Thursday and Good Friday. He saw that the powers of hatred, jealousy and division are always claiming ownership of the world. He experienced the rudeness of those rulers, people of influence and extremist that is more ruling our world than the real power of love, truth and justice. Jesus Christ experienced what we experience every day in this broken global world. This is the reason the Book of Hebrews writes: “ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15+16).

But then it was Sunday, and the tomb was empty, reminding us that the power of Resurrection and life is always greater than sin and death. The power of Resurrection is always greater than the power hatred and oppression.

The light of Easter morning is far brighter than the darkness of the tomb.

The fire of the Holy Spirit is certainly more powerful than the fire that threatened the Notre Dame – and more powerful than the fires, shooters, and criminals who have targeted churches, mosques, and synagogues and other holy places in many other places across the globe.

Isn’t it true, that on Good Friday, people thought that the tomb was the end of the story?
Isn’t it true, that on Holy Saturday even Jesus’ followers thought that the powers and principalities had won out over the truth, love, justice, and mercy demonstrated by Jesus?
But this is why we always must celebrate Easter with joy. Easter is the feast of Jerusalem, and the feast of hope. We must never cease to proclaim the Good News that Christ is risen, and death, hatred, and injustice have been defeated once and for all.

Jesus was bringing to earth a new world based on justice and freedom, and people accused Him of incitement. He was eating with sinners, and they called Him a troublemaker. At the end of the day, even some of His disciples who had shared His last meal with Him turned against Him. Either they denied Him, or betrayed Him with a kiss, or they abandoned Him when he appeared weak on the cross. The Cross was no accident of history—it was the direct result of our human unwillingness to follow the path of righteousness and love, and our hesitance to speak truth to power. For this reason, Our Lord went to the Cross.

But the Cross is our hope and our salvation! It is never the end of the story. God has raised Jesus from the dead. The tomb is empty. And this is where our Easter joy and hope is born.

Because He is risen, we know that injustice, division, violence, populism, hatred and occupation will not last forever.

Because He is risen, we know true power lies not in the hands of the rich and influential but in the hands of God.

Because He is risen—in Jerusalem—we will remain steadfast in the land of resurrection, praying and working for peace based on justice and reconciliation based on forgiveness, until both are a reality for all people in this land.

Because He is risen, we will never let hopelessness rule or even ruin our lives. We will continue to live the power of the Christ’s hope.

It was once said that people can live three weeks without food,
Three days without water,
Three minutes without air,
But a human being cannot live even three seconds without hope.

We must revive hope in ourselves and in the Church this Easter—even when Good Friday seems to last forever! We must revive our hope, trusting in the Risen Lord, who has shown us that the prevailing situation will not last forever. Like the witnesses on that first Easter morning, I believe that reconciliation and peace, justice and liberation, truth and love,will surprise us quicker than we think. They will come with the brightness of dawn, just when we think the night willnever end. This is our Living Hope! Let us live this Living Hope of the Resurrection in our daily lives.

Al Masih qam! Hakanqam!

Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Tue, 04/23/2019 - 12:07
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