In occasion of this Holy Easter we want to share with you the Easter message of Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land and President of the Association pro Terra Sancta.
We are in the Cenacle, on Mount Zion, in the place where Jesus ate the Last Supper with His disciples, and there gave them the gift of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, we are also in the same place where he gave the commandment of fraternal love and the example of service through the washing of feet.
It was in this place that Jesus appeared to the Apostles on the evening of Easter Sunday. The closed doors did not prevent the Risen One from entering, and Jesus manifested Himself through words, actions, and signs which were important for the small group of Apostles, still under fear and shock because of His death. These same words, actions, and signs are also important for us, who live 2000 years after these events took place.
The words and actions are united in themselves and contain a gift and a mission of peace and reconciliation: «Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me so I am sending you». After with that He breathed on them and said, «Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven».
Jesus gives peace, Jesus gives the Holy Spirit, Jesus entrusts a mission which is above all a mission of reconciliation, of forgiveness and of peace, in order to enable us to be reborn as a new and reconciled humanity, recreated by the gift of the Spirit.
Jesus also offers a sign, which He offered anew eight days later, in order to help the journey of faith of Thomas.This sign is the wound of the nails on His hands and feet, and the wound of the lance in His side.
Jesus has risen, He has won the victory over death, but in His risen body, He still bears the signs of the nails and of the lance. In other words, He still bears – and will continue to do so for all eternity – the signs and the wounds manifest how far His love for us can go: to the point of His full and total self-giving, to the point of dying for us.
These signs, these wounds, remind us that the resurrection does not cancel out the cross in the personal story of Jesus, or from the cross of the Church and in the life of each and every one of us, but that it transfigures it, and makes us read this story in a new light, that is, in the light of Easter.
From this place which is so special, I wish to extend to each and every one of you, together with my Franciscan brothers of the Custody of the Holy Land, my greetings for a joyful Easter.
May Jesus continue to pour out His Holy Spirit upon us from this place, which is the place of the apparitions of the Risen One on the evening of the first Christian Easter and also on that of the following Sunday, eight days later. May He pour His Spirit upon us, we who are fragile disciples, and who are often afraid and have little faith.
May the mission of peace, of forgiveness and of reconciliation that the Risen Jesus entrusted to the Apostles, that is, to the Church, take vigor and spread out from this place.
May the Risen One give to each and every one of us the grace and courage to be men and women of peace and reconciliation, here in the Holy Land and also in all the places and situations where sin brings violence, conflict, misunderstanding, and division.
May we be able to make a personal experience of that beatitude, that is, of that full and interior joy, which the Risen Jesus proclaimed here in answer to the troubled profession of faith of Thomas: «Because you have seen, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed».
A Happy Easter to each and every one of you, to your families and all those dear to you.