Dr. Bernard Sabella, Jerusalem
In Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Easter takes on special significance. For Palestinian Christians and for thousands of pilgrims who commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, these events are reawakened in association with the same places Gethsemane, the Via Dolorosa, Golgotha and the Sepulcher of two thousand years ago.
The story of Lazarus is the most telling of the Easter saga: here is a man who physically died but was resurrected. The compassion of Jesus, individual in the case of Lazarus, was extended to all through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross and resurrection.
For us here, in the troubled land of Palestine and Israel, resurrection is yet to come. We are like Lazarus awaiting compassion.
The landscape these days confirm that spring has arrived. Yet, unlike years where the winter is generally cold, this year the rainy cold days were followed by milder sunny days. As a result we had had green shrubs and wild flowers year round. This is a miracle in itself even if it detracts from the contrast in the scenery between winter and spring.
In early springtime, before the hot summer sun reduces the green into the brownish burnt color, the landscape is a kaleidoscope of a variety of brilliant colors mixing daffodils, anemone, lilac chaste tree, corn poppy, pretty Carmelite and scores of other plants and wild flowers into a beautiful carpet of divine scenery.
Yet in this Easter as we relive resurrection and its promises and as we humbly learn from the wild flowers of the land and their survival and rebirth, we find ourselves, Palestinians and Israelis caught in the catacombs of a political process. For us Palestinians peace is in the essence of our survival as a people and as a society. For our neighbors, the Separation Wall and the control mechanisms offer a mirage of security. Without genuine peace, agreed upon by the two parties, the ground will remain fertile for more death and destruction.
The miracle of resurrection is not simply a physical one nor is it a gift without commitment. Passing from one situation to another necessitates commitment and determination. This cannot be done without a vision: be it freedom, self and group preservation or simply making peace with neighbors and accepting them.
This is the essence of the resurrection and its celebration in this Holy Week.
Dr Bernard Sabella is Executive Secretary of the Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees in the Middle East Council of Churches.