Following is the text of the Easter Message of Custos of the Holy Land Br. Francesco Patton dated April 3, 2021:
"Stronger than death is love"
"Do not be afraid! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified One. He is risen, He is not here. This is the place where they had placed it." (Mk 16.6).
This announcement, given by the angel, here at the Sepulcher, on Easter morning, is such a surprise that it is incredible even to those who have known and followed Jesus more closely.
It is incredible for Mary Magdalene, who had been healed by Jesus and restored to an authentic life by Him; Mary Magdalene who had loved Him with all her heart, with all her soul and with all her strength.
It is incredible for Peter, who also recognized Him as the Christ, the Son of God and had received the task of confirming his brothers in the faith.
It is incredible to John, His beloved disciple, who had approached the heart of Jesus in order to be able to draw on the depth of His mystery and of His love.
"He is not here, He is risen!", "Death has been overcome!"
It is what everyone desires in the depths of the heart, because we feel and know that we are made for life, for a full, happy, and everlasting life.
It is the desire for life that we carry within us.
A desire that this year has been severely challenged many times and all over the world, when we felt the pandemic besieging us as an invisible enemy, when the people we love fell ill with this virus that takes our breath away and our strength, when some of our loved ones were swallowed up by death and died in solitude.
A desire for life that in so many parts of the world had already been put in crisis before the pandemic: by wars and famines, by humanitarian crises and by the crisis of humanity, by the globalization of indifference, by inhuman forms of embargo.
Like the eyes of the disciples, ours too risk being veiled by the perception that death is stronger than life and that it is the end of everything. And despite having read the Gospel many times, perhaps we have not yet understood that everything is fulfilled and is renewed precisely in the Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus.
Nevertheless, here in front of this empty tomb it must be said, indeed it must be shouted aloud: “Death has been overcome! because Jesus is risen. Here is the place where they placed him."
"Death has been overcome!" because love is stronger than death. The infinite love with which Jesus lived our human existence and our very death is stronger than death. His love is capable of rebuilding our short life so that it becomes eternal, and of filling this mortal flesh of ours with His Holy Spirit, so that we can enter into His divine life.
In the dawn of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, death was conquered forever.
Therefore, I do not need to know anything else.
I no longer need to see or touch anything else but this empty tomb, which for two thousand years has testified that He is alive, and for two thousand years announces, that together with Him, I too, you too, will be alive forever."
Br. Francesco Patton ofm
Custos of the Holy Land