Two-thousand years later, the city and the land in which it forms the beating heart, still knows great sadness, often the result of a hatred which has blighted the Holy Land and the Middle East for generations. However, as Pope Francis has reminded us in his encyclical, “Fratelli tutti”, Calvary was anything but a defeat, for in that place was born true reconciliation, where we might come to know and understand the authentic meaning of fraternity and communion. The foundation of our being brothers and sisters is found precisely on Mount Calvary. There, through the greatest gift of love, the Lord Jesus revealed the means to halt enmity and to break the vicious circle of hatred. On Mount Calvary, the Lord Jesus opened up for everyone the way of reconciliation, with the Father, and with one another.
Those who kept watch with the Lord Jesus in that first Holy Week laid deep roots in their land, which is reflected in the ancient Christian culture of the Holy Places. The Christians of the Holy Land who trace their line back to those same witnesses, have remembered the Lord Jesus’ call to place their trust unwavering in God’s promises; they have recalled his words to serve not only as beacons of faith to their fellow Christians around the world - to be a city built on a hill which cannot be hidden (Cf. Matt. 5:14); but also, as bringers of peace (Cf. Is. 52:7) to a society which has traditionally been, and continues to be, greatly troubled and divided, for “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (Ja. 3:18).
We, who along with our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, love the earthly Jerusalem, should see her as a prophecy and promise of that universal reconciliation and peace which God desires for the whole human family, and which we know to be the Heavenly Jerusalem; for the Lord God “will swallow up on thismountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and [He] will wipe away tears from all faces” (Is. 25:6-8).
On Good Friday, the Church asks her children to help the Christian community of this City in a very practical way, made all the more urgent by the recent effects of Covid. These are the children of those first Christians who witnessed the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Down the centuries, this Christian community has held fast to the hope bestowed by the Gospel and prized the pledge of Christ’s definitive victory over sin and death, by bearing witness to the power of forgiveness, which reveals the Church’s deepest nature as the sign and sacrament of a humanity reconciled, renewed and made one in the Lord Jesus.
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