The Tomb Where Hope Is Born
Pope Benedict XVI today visited the Holy Sepulcher, the site of the entombment of Jesus and his subsequent resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The Pope said the empty tomb of Jesus “speaks to us of hope, the hope that does not disappoint because it is the gift of the Spirit of life (Romans 5:5). This is the message that I wish to leave with you today, at the conclusion of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land. May hope rise up ever anew, by God’s grace, in the hearts of all the people dwelling in these lands! May it take root in your hearts, abide in your families and communities, and inspire in each of you an ever more faithful witness to the Prince of Peace!”
At the conclusion of his remarks at the Holy Sepulcher — the last of the holy places the Holy Father visited on his Holy Land pilgrimage — Benedict said this:
With these words of encouragement, dear friends, I conclude my pilgrimage to the holy places of our redemption and rebirth in Christ. I pray that the Church in the Holy Land will always draw new strength from its contemplation of the empty tomb of the Savior. In that tomb it is called to bury all its anxieties and fears, in order to rise again each day and continue its journey through the streets of Jerusalem, Galilee and beyond, proclaiming the triumph of Christ’s forgiveness and the promise of new life. As Christians, we know that the peace for which this strife-torn land yearns has a name: Jesus Christ. “He is our peace,” who reconciled us to God in one body through the cross, bringing an end to hostility (Ephesians 2:14). Into his hands, then, let us entrust all our hope for the future, just as in the hour of darkness he entrusted his spirit into the Father’s hands.
Allow me to conclude with a special word of fraternal encouragement to my brother bishops and priests, and to the men and women religious who serve the beloved Church in the Holy Land. Here, before the empty tomb, at the very heart of the Church, I invite you to rekindle the enthusiasm of your consecration to Christ and your commitment to loving service of his mystical body. Yours is the immense privilege of bearing witness to Christ in this, the land which he sanctified by his earthly presence and ministry. In pastoral charity, enable your brothers and sisters, and all the inhabitants of this land, to feel the healing presence and the reconciling love of the risen One. Jesus asks each of us to be a witness of unity and peace to all those who live in this City of Peace. As the new Adam, Christ is the source of the unity to which the whole human family is called, that unity of which the Church is the sign and sacrament. As the Lamb of God, he is the source of that reconciliation, which is both God’s gift and a sacred task enjoined upon us. As the Prince of Peace, he is the source of that peace which transcends all understanding, the peace of the new Jerusalem. May he sustain you in your trials, comfort you in your afflictions, and confirm you in your efforts to proclaim and extend his Kingdom. To all of you, and to those whom you serve, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of Easter joy and peace.