For two thousand years, millions of people of all nations, races, peoples, languages and religions go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Israel and Palestine). There, Jesus lived doing good, recognized as a good person, tender and merciful. The stories of healing and liberation from those evils that ruin the hearts, souls and bodies prove his fight against evil which harms humans from generation to generation. Every human being concerned about the destiny of his fellow human brothers and sisters lacking life, love, trust, peace, is able to recognize in Jesus an outstanding man and a model of humanity.
Many, haunted by the meaning of their lives and the destiny of the world, go further in acknowledging this man as a great prophet. Because Jesus has brought to light in the heart of our humanity deep aspirations for happiness and has laid out paths to reach them. For people who are capable of opening up their heart, of gentleness, of mercy, of sharing their pain and thirst for justice, he confirms that they are on the true path of a humanity renewed, and he encourages them to follow this path with courage and confidence. Arise! Go! The fruit will be good for humans.
I went on a pilgrimage in early March. I wanted to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, to see those landscapes that were his; to listen there to his Words to the stories of his life and his works. My goal was to better understand, in my Christian faith, the depths of God's love for us. Jesus, the Son of God made flesh, shared our destiny to make of us a humanity renewed by this divine, faithful, generous, tender and merciful love
But what a scandal was the end of his life! Is this not the dismal failure of a beautiful dream? Jesus is gradually abandoned by the crowds that wondered at his miracles, but are disappointed by his refusal to be their political and military leader. Those close to him, who lived with him for nearly three years, do not understand it. At the last minute, one of them betrays him, the others drop out, and their leader denies knowing him.
And there is this agony in the garden of Gethsemane. He who had always shown himself strong in word and deed, always able to thwart all the pitfalls, here he is crushed by his fate. He experiences the weakness of his own flesh, he knows the anguish of being abandoned and of having to face alone a very painful death. The malice of all humanity seems to have conspired against him: cowardice, fear, jealousy, neglect, betrayal, cynicism, complete solitude, unjust conviction of an innocent person.
Yet at the heart of this failure, he remains himself. Coming out of anguish by intense prayer, it is a peaceful man who consents to what he perceives to be the tortuous path willed by God to convince us of the extremes of his love. He prays for those who condemn him: "Father, forgive them…." He relies with confidence and abandonment on God knowing that he is loved by Him: "Father, into your hands I commend my life." The centurion, a pagan who saw many other desperate condemned convicted to the cross, is shocked at such a death: "This really is the Son of God." And, like every human being, Jesus returns to the earth. He is placed in the tomb.
But three days later, the tomb is found empty. His friends see him alive, but with a life over which death has no power. That means that even this absolute wall, which is death, where our dreams and projects collide, is defeated. And the message borne by his words, his life, and his death becomes clear to those who believe in him. God loves us that much. He did not want to stay far away from us. He came to share our miserable human destiny and our painful life so that he could support us by his faithful and merciful love.
This is what I want to celebrate in this Holy Week. For us, believers in the divinity of Jesus, this week is the religious summit of the year. Certainly, rabbits, flowers and spring can evoke as distant and pale symbols, the mystery of this celebration. But there is more and better: to delve into this mystery of love so that we may experience this divine love for every human being and extend it in our life choices.
I wish you a Holy week, a Good Easter Sunday. And a good spring, as it will come inevitably after this very snowy winter.