Easter Message by Br. Francesco Patton, ofm Custos of the Holy Land

We are inside the Edicule of the Holy Sepulcher, we are in the most important place for us Christians. This area housed the tomb carved in the rock, which Joseph of Arimathea had prepared for himself and that he made available for the burial of Jesus.
Below this marble stone is the rock on which the body of Jesus was laid on the evening of Good Friday, after a first quick anointing and after his face was covered by a shroud and his body was wrapped in a fresh linen cloth.

The morning of the third day, that is Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and the other women came here: they saw the stone rolled away and the empty tomb when the messenger of God exhorted them not to seek the Living among the dead.

On the same morning of Easter, Peter and John came running right here and they could see the empty tomb, they could see the strips of linen and the folded shroud lying here.

These few and simple signs persuaded the beloved disciple who, by simply seeing them, believed! He believed that in an instant of light, Jesus had conquered death and had brought our humanity, our flesh, into the very life of God.

In Nazareth, at the moment of Mary’s ‘yes’, the Word was made flesh and God had begun to experience human life in the womb of Mary.

Here – in the place of the resurrection – our fragile and mortal human life enters the dimension of eternity, which becomes life in God, which goes beyond the experience of death and lands on the fullness of life.

The womb of Mary was the physical place through which God entered into time, with the incarnation of his Son, to share our human existence. This place, the Holy Sepulcher, is like a womb as well, in which our humanity began to live in God, starting from the moment in which Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, has risen.

This is why this empty tomb is so important to us and this is why it is the foundation of our faith and our hope: after Jesus’ resurrection here, we know with certainty that death is overcome; we know that death no longer has the last word in our lives nor in the lives of the people we love; we know that there is Someone who is more powerful than death itself.
Jesus gave His life with infinite love, he conquered death forever, he also introduced the possibility for us to be with him in the mystery of Easter, in the very life of God.

Throughout human history, this is the most important discovery. This event changed our life forever.

The risen Jesus who conquered death, brought us forever into the very life of God, which is a full life, as well as communion of love and happiness beyond our imagination.

From this very special place, I wish to extend to each and every one of you the Easter greetings from the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land.

Whether we live a few steps or a thousands of miles away from this holy place, on Easter we are all here, in this empty tomb. And here, we can lay everything that in our life speaks of death, here we learn to recognize the signs of resurrection that we can glimpse through Jesus, here we learn to believe that, taken by the hand of the risen Jesus, we can live in God.

Happy Easter to each and every one of you and to your families.

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