Card. Pizzaballa on Palm Sunday: 'With Jesus let us not be contaminated by hatred'

The Patriarch's words at the procession on the Mount of Olives that opened the rites of Holy Week in a Jerusalem marked by war: "We are here to cry out that even in these tragic circumstances our only reference is Jesus". The closeness to the parish of Gaza: "We pray with you that this night will pass as soon as possible".

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - "May the Lord give you peace". With these very timely words, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Card. Pierbattista Pizzaballa opened his message yesterday afternoon to the faithful who took part in the procession from the Mount of Olives in the Holy City which opened the celebrations of Holy Week.

The walk to the church of St. Anne is traditionally the most festive moment of the Easter celebrations in Jerusalem; but this year falls in the tragic moment that the whole Holy Land is experiencing due to the war in Gaza which has been going on for almost six months after the massacres of October 7th.

"It may be that in these past months we have felt lost or alone and without reference points  - recalls Cardinal Pizzaballa - We have felt crushed by so much hatred. This war, which is so terrible and seems never-ending, sometimes leads us to fear for the future of our families. Yet, today we are here again, even if few in number, without pilgrims and without so many of our brothers and sisters from so many parts of our diocese, who could not join us. It does not discourage us! Few or many, it is important to be here, and to shout with strength and faith that we have a point of reference, Jesus Christ. We are not alone, we are not abandoned, and above all we are not afraid!."

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem speaks from the heart of a land that is "Holy, but wounded because it is invaded by so much hatred and resentment. Woe to us if we allow ourselves to be contaminated by all of this. Today, we want to ask God to preserve our hearts from these feelings of enmity. For we cannot remain friends of Jesus if we cultivate enmity in our hearts. We cannot love Jesus, if we do not love one another, and if we do not have the courage to be close to all, even in the present tragic circumstances in which we live in. We want to live, suffer, and act with Him and for Him."

With this spirit, Card. Pizzaballa invited us to pray for peace in Jerusalem, "a peace that is a cordial and sincere welcome of others, a tenacious desire to listen and dialogue, open roads on which fear and suspicion give way to knowledge, to encounter and to trust, where differences are opportunities for companionship and not a pretext for mutual rejection".

He then addressed a special thought of closeness to the parish of the Holy Family, the Latin rite community in Gaza: "We know well how difficult it is, after almost six months, to stand amidst this terrible dark night that never seems to end, to stand united and steadfast, amidst the hunger and violence that surrounds you. But we assure you that we are doing and that we will continue to do all we can to support you and, together with you, we pray that this night will pass as soon as possible. Do not be discouraged. For you, too, as for all, will come the dawn of the third day, the news of the resurrection."

To the pilgrims from all over the world who used to flock to this event, he said: “We are waiting for you. Do not be afraid, return to Jerusalem and to the Holy Land! Your presence is always a presence of peace, and we sincerely need peace today, may you come and bring us your peace."

Finally, he indicated to the Church of the Holy Land the spirit with which to live this Holy Week: "These days shall be intense, but also very beautiful. They shall give us strength. We want to live these days with serene confidence in God's intervention in history, our history, our life. Yes, He does not leave us alone. For we know that He who has raised Christ from the dead shall also give life to all of us through His Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:11). We believe this, even for us, here today, and we confirm it with joy and determination!"