The mystery of the Resurrection is difficult to understand or explain and can only be welcomed into one's heart with trust and love, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, said in his Easter homily at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
"Today in Jerusalem, as in any other part of the world, the mystery par excellence, the core of our faith -- that is, the Resurrection -- is placed before our consciousness," he said April 17. "What have we done with this mystery? How much has the consciousness that Christ is risen and alive changed and determined our existence?"
"Let us not retreat or lock ourselves in our fears. Let us not allow death and its subjects to frighten us. That would be to deny with our lives our faith in the Resurrection," he said during the first Easter Mass following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions imposed in 2020.
Holy Week, which this year coincided with the Muslim holiday of Ramadan and the start of the Jewish Passover, saw the beginning of a return of pilgrims to the Old City, though not to the pre-pandemic levels, which included more than 4.5 million visitors in 2019.
Archbishop Pizzaballa told those at the Easter Mass that, through his resurrection, Jesus saved believers from "oblivion, from slavery, from exile" as well as the last enemy of death: sin.
Looking around at the terrible conditions many people around the world are suffering, including in the Holy Land, Ukraine, Yemen and other countries in Asia and Africa, it is easy enough to find reasons to worry and feel overwhelmed by death, he acknowledged.
"The life that we celebrate here today is elsewhere despised and humiliated every day with cynicism and arrogance," he said.
People also have suffered during the pandemic and experienced personal losses of death, pain and loneliness, he said.
The Resurrection should not be looked upon as a "generic symbol of peace and harmony," or be confused with recovery or a return to normalcy of life, he said, but rather seen as "the breaking of God's life into ours" as a source of forgiveness, the answer to loneliness and "the fulfillment of God's desire for unity and love for man."
"Only the encounter with the risen Christ can give us true resurrection, a full life, which makes us stand in the world with the passion and strength of free and redeemed persons," said Archbishop Pizzaballa.
"From here, then, from Jerusalem, in front of this empty tomb, we announce to this church and to the whole world the proclamation of true peace, which has gushed forth from here and which we want to reach every corner of the earth," he said.