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May 16, 2021

Resurrection of the Lord

Easter Pastoral Letter of His Holiness Ioan Robu

We are entering the Easter Holidays with the vivid memory of Pope Benedict XVI renouncing the Papacy and the election of his successor (…) Holy Father Francis. The path between the two events resembles the Road to the Cross, a road to light and victory, having passed through the valley of trials. The Church’s experience lately helps us better understand the Pascal mystery of the death and resurrection of  Jesus; since Jesus’ resurrection can only be understood through the secret of the trial, of the cross. Discovering the meaning of the cross is at the heart of Resurrection; this discovery is of essence to the Pascal experience, since it converts the cross scandal into a mystery of life and love. To believe in resurrection means to discover the glorious cross. Let’s remember what Saint Luke said about the apprentices of Jesus on their way to Emmaus. Walking along the way, they were talking about what had happened in Jerusalem. They pinned all their hopes in Jesus of Nazareth, yet he had just been crucified, as if an evildoer. The brilliant prospects of the Kingdom had been shattered: „And it came to pass, while they communed and questioned together, that Jesus himself drew nearer, and went with them. But their eyes were beholden that they should not known him. And he said unto them, What communications are these that we have one with another, as we walk? And they stood still, looking sad. And one of them, named Cleopas, answering said unto him, Dost thou alone sojourn in Jerusalem and not know the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, The things concerning  Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the priests and our leaders delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we hoped that it was he who should redeem Israel. (…) It is now the third day since these thing came to pass. Moreover, certain women of our company amazed us, having been early at the tomb; and when they found not his body, they came, saying, they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive: but him they saw not.» (Luke 24.15-24).The humiliations, suffering and death of Jesus made the apprentices of Emmaus to lose all their hope. Neither the empty tomb, nor the testimony of the women that went to the tomb could not enlighten them: „But their eyes were beholden that they should not see him.” (Luke 24.16).

The Pascal experience only begins with the manifestation of the meaning of the suffering and death of Jesus. As long as this meaning remains hidden, the Resurrected One remains unknown to his apprentices Only by discovering the meaning for his death could make the Pascal light lighten. The Resurrected Jesus can only be recognized in the light that shows the meaning of his sufferings. „Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24.26-27). Walking the along the road with them, Jesus, yet unrecognized by the apprentices, shows them, with the help of the Scriptures, the meaning of His death.The expression of this meaning is an experience that comprises the whole being, their heart: „And they rose up that very hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them (Luke 24.32). From the explanations in the Scriptures, the apprentices understood that Jesus had to go along the road of trials and sufferings in order to enter into his glory; but only when he broke the bread they recognized him: „And it came to pass, when he sat down with them to meat, he took the bread and blessed; and breaking it he gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24, 29-30). It was when he broke the bread that the apprentices discover the meaning of Jesus’ death: the death of the Savior no longer appears as a fallacy or an inability, but the deed of a life that freely sacrificed, out of love, to the very end. In Jesus who stands by their side, they feel the power and light of Resurrection and, therefore, they know that his love is forever alive in this world. Saint John will sum up this Pascal experience in just one phrase: „And we know we have believed the love which God has in us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.” (John 4.16a).

My beloved brothers and sisters,

Having been surprised and shaken by the Sovereign Pontiff’s renouncing the Petrine Office and then enjoyed the election of Holy Father Francis; having often meditated during the Lent Fast at the suffering of the Savior, now, at the Easter Holiday, let’s enjoy the warm love of the Resurrected Jesus; and in prayer, let’s thank him for accompanying, enlightening and attracting us with his everlasting faithful and enduring love.

To all the Archdiocese faithful, monks and nuns, consecrated persons, rector priests and vicars, I wish you from the bottom of my heart  Happy Easter, peace and blessings!

Christ Has Risen!

Ioan RobuMetropolitan Archbishop of  Bucharest

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