The service cancelled during Holy Week because of the lockdown to stem the COVID-19 pandemic was celebrated today in the Church of Gethsemane, not the Holy Sepulchre. For the Apostolic Administrator, the emergency becomes an invitation to rethink ourselves and the origins of the faith.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, celebrated Chrism Mass today in the Church of Gethsemane in Jerusalem.
In his homily, the prelate said that in a world "that speaks of freedom" but comes up always “with new forms of slavery,” Christians are called to remain "free for the salvific ‘today’ that resounds in every true encounter with Christ!”
The celebration that each bishop holds with his clergy during Holy Week was postponed because of the lockdown imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today's service saw in attendance bishops, priests, monks, nuns, Sisters and some faithful, thanks to the partial easing of restrictive measures in Israel.
“The Oil of the Catechumens that we bless today recalls this dignity but also this baptismal courage,” noted the prelate. This “should make us all not opposed to each other, but makes us always new witnesses of evangelical truths and freedoms”.
This is even more important today in a world that “that often, in disguise, repeats old rationales of domination and deceitfulness.”
Archbishop Pizzaballa went on to mention the period when places of worship were closed and distancing imposed because of the pandemic, stressing that this was “the first time in decades that we find ourselves celebrating the Chrism Mass outside of Holy Week, and indeed, outside the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.”
Today's celebration, was not just “a postponement imposed by circumstances. Rather, it appears to me as an invitation to a deepening or, better, to a repositioning.” Christ asks to " to open the scroll of the Scriptures again, to read the truth of our present time."
“The difficult period we are experiencing due to the pandemic and its consequences must also become an invitation to rethink, to take a new position in the world,” said the Apostolic Administrator.
The priesthood must also be contemplated " trying to find in it the intention of God and his will.” To this end, “we must not invent new places or new roles for the Church and priests in the world, but once again to relocate ourselves to the place where Jesus was, and that place must also be ours: The Upper Room and the Cross.”
The prelate noted that Jesus' relationship with the Father was at stake in Gethsemane; this is constitutive of his identity, his relationship with his brothers and with the evil one, with Satan who “returns here with his power of temptation”.
Finally, for Archbishop Pizzaballa, this place reminds us of the “total abandonment to the will of God.”