2012 Easter Homily – Holy Sepulcher
Your Eminence, William Cardinal Levada,
Dear brother Bishops and Priests, dear men and women religious,
Dear faithful of the Holy Land, dear pilgrims from all over the world,
Dear faithful with us through the various communications media,
On this glorious day, we relive in this Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre the joy of Easter, the joy of Christ
truly risen, who “goes before us to Galilee.” (Mt 28:7)
I wish all of you a beautiful and holy feast of the Resurrection, in the knowledge that the events unfolding
in the Middle East threaten our region, our people and our Christians, that add a somberness to this Easter
1 – Three women, disciples of Jesus, go to the tomb to anoint the Crucified body that was taken down from
the Cross (Mk 16: 1-2). But when they discover that the tomb is open and the Body of Jesus is gone, a “man
dressed in white” said to them “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not
here. (Mk 16:6) “Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce
this to his disciples” what they had seen and heard. (Mt 28:8)
Today, we are thousands in search of Christ, his Word and his Peace. And we suffer when we find Him
neither in politics, nor in the economy, nor in the family. And fear envelopes us before this emptiness,
exactly as it overcame the women before the empty tomb.
This tomb no longer contains the Crucified Body. Yet Christ wishes that all humanity should return to him.
He asks us to spread the news of the coming of his Kingdom – as he directed the women to announce his
Resurrection to the disciples.
Today, we are witnesses of his Resurrection and we have no reason to fear or to doubt: the Tomb is
empty, the Crucified One lives. Now, no one has right over Him: no place, no country, no people.
2 – Today, He who has risen from the dead in turn bids us to announce the Good News around us and to
spread the Easter joy. In spite of Good Friday and the weight of death lying for so long upon us and on our
country, let us from now on sing the hymn of the Resurrection: Christ is risen Alleluia!
3 – Dear brothers and sisters, we, the modern day disciples and descendants of the women of Jerusalem,
must arm ourselves with faith, with courage, with the joy of our encounter with Jesus, to announce to all
our brothers and sisters his Resurrection and his victory. This is particularly true for the faithful of our
neighbouring countries who live in fear: fear due to the unrest in our region; fear of an uncertain, even dark
future. Politicians and the international community are a little less concerned about our freedom and our
fate. Personal interests overwhelm the goodwill of those trying to seek and advance peace and justice.
Today’s martyrs bear witness to Christ’s Resurrection, just as the processions, the stones of Jerusalem, the
prisoners in Christ’s name are testimonies. Through our conduct and our conscience, we must be a living
testimony for our faithful in this land, our pilgrims and tourists.
Let us proclaim with faith that Christ is risen, that he lives and we are witnesses.
4 – They are many who come in search of Christ, while seeking to find their roots in the Holy Land. We
are the roots, we are the Mother Church. And none of the difficulties and misfortunes that beset us will
shake our faith, but rather increase our perseverance, our sense of belonging to Jerusalem and to our
Church. The living Christ always triumphs over evil.
5 – Throughout history, the disciples of Christ have had to bear witness of their encounter and of their
experience with Him. A huge crowd, that incudes you and me, followed their example for two thousand
Often Christ’s disciples find themselves unresponsive, unaccepting, in disbelief and lacking in
understanding. In the history of the Church, many have paid the price of their testimony with their lives:
the glorious army of martyrs shed their blood just for being Christian, and for having announced the Good
News of the Resurrection and of the victory of Christ. And this impetus has never ceased to this day and
will never cease.
Modern day man continually asks for visible proof of the Resurrection. He is equally unconvinced by the
empty tomb, the holy Shroud and the soldiers’ accounts.
Brothers and Sisters, in fact the first miracle of the Resurrection is a radical change of heart, as expressed
by the Roman centurion:
“Truly, this man was the Son of God.” (Mk 15:39) It is that which we call conversion: of the soldiers, of the
disciples gathered in the Cenacle who had shut all the doors out of fear. The Resurrection transformed
them and they became witnesses, witnesses willing to suffer death for Christ.
In the Arab countries around us, an enthusiastic youth has shaken from his feet the dust of a dark,
miserable and totalitarian history. This is a new generation in search of a new life of justice, freedom and
dignity; seeking resurrection and reform for its people. The only means of bringing about these changes are
strength of will and confidence in a better future.
We help them through our prayers, our encouragement, our advice to be guided by reason while being
faithful to their motherland and all it stands for.
We hope one day to sing our Alleluia together with them notwithstanding the risks and dangers that
threaten them, that threaten us, including many with vested interests who are keen on harvesting the fruit
of this revolution without having participated in it. Nevertheless, from now on reform is indispensable.
Let us then bury in Christ’s tomb our social ambitions, our religious differences, our acts of violence, our
lack of faith and our fears. May we live a new life in accordance with the “New Evangelisation,” thus
fulfilling the wish of the Master for his Holy Church in the spirit of the forthcoming Synod in October.
Assuming that you have heard of Christ and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put
away the old self … be renewed … and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and
holiness of truth,”(Ep 4:21-24), creating righteous citizens who believe in good, in peace and “have life in
abundance.” (Jn 10:10). A citizen who lives and allows others to live.
From this tomb came forth Light and Peace which today must again spring forth. Let us ask the Lord to
grant our desire and dream for the Holy Land and for the whole world.
Dear Brothers and sisters, dear friends who are sick, the elderly, prisoners… to all of you who suffer from
injustice…to you dear faithful who feel that Good Friday never seems to end because of violence and
injustice…to all of those who cannot live their Easter joy… to those who have not been able to join us here
in this Holy Sepulchre to celebrate this feast with us…
For you I raise my prayer with the hope that you will enjoy the Peace of the Resurrection. May this joy fill
your hearts with love, with friendship through the strength of the risen Christ who wants to raise us with
him through faith in the power of God. (Col 2:2,12)
The Lord is Risen. Go and proclaim this Good News throughout the world. Yes, Jesus is truly risen.
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem