Patriarch of Jerusalem: Respond to division with unity and faith
On Palm Sunday, Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, calls for unity, after witnessing in recent weeks many episodes of violence in the city, including against churches and Christian symbols.
Amid the turmoil in the Holy Land, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, has told the faithful to not be discouraged or afraid, and to counter division with attempts to build unity.
Speaking at the Palm Sunday procession yesterday on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, he welcomed those from all the parishes who traveled from Palestine and Israel for the day of celebration, prayer, and communion.
"Faithful, religious, priests, bishops, Christians from different churches, we are all united with joy in the name of Jesus, the most beautiful name of all, one that we will never cease to pronounce and celebrate," he said.
Being united in Christ, he underscored, "gives us renewed strength" and "warms our hearts," and enables us, "once again, from Jerusalem, to carry this proclamation of love, freedom, and life throughout the world, as people did two thousand years ago."
Must not be afraid
Despite everything, he said, Jerusalem is still capable of generating this experience.
Not only is it a city of conflict, division, of political and religious tension, of possession and exclusion, he said; but it is also a place of encounter, faith, prayer, joy, communion and unity.
He lamented the many incidents of violence in this city, in recent weeks, including against churches and Christian symbols.
"But we must not be afraid of those who want to divide, those who want to exclude or who want to take over the soul of this Holy City."
“They will not succeed, because the Holy City has always been and will always remain a house of prayer for all peoples.”
No one, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem stressed, will be able to possess it exclusively. "As I keep repeating, we belong to this city and no one can separate us from our love for it, just as no one can separate us from the love of Christ."
"To those who want to divide, we will respond with the desire to build unity. To those who express hatred and contempt, we will respond with the healing power of love. To those who wish to exclude, we will respond by seeking to meet and welcome," he said.
Will never give up
“We will never give up our love for what this City represents: it is the place of Christ’s Death and Resurrection, the place of reconciliation, of a love that saves and overcomes the boundaries of pain and death.”
As the Church of Jerusalem, he said, this is also our mission, "to build up, to unite, to break down barriers, to hope against all hope, to bear witness with serene confidence to a way of life freed from the shackles of any form of fear."
No room for resentment
Therefore, in our hearts, he said, there is no room for hatred and resentment.
"We do not want to hate or despise. The love of Christ that has conquered us," he recalled, "is stronger than any opposite experience. And this is, and remains, our strength; this is and always will be, despite our many limitations, our witness."
“Let us not be discouraged. Let us not lose heart. Let us not lose hope. And let us not be afraid, but look up confidently and once again renew our sincere and concrete commitment to peace and unity, with firm confidence in the power of Christ’s love!”
God's love for us
The Cross of Christ is "the measure of God’s love for us," he noted, saying that behind it, we will carry our labors, sorrows, and loneliness, but also our desire to experience once again the love of Christ.
“May that Cross then always accompany us, comfort us in all our troubles, illuminate our paths and open us to the encounter with the Risen One.”
Patriarch Pizzaballa concluded by wishing a "Happy Holy Week to all!"
Deborah Castellano Lubov