|The Holiest site of Christendom|
* The door
* Sunday Vigil
All Christian pilgrims to the Holy City of Jerusalem do their best to visit
the holiest shrine of Christendom. On arriving in Jerusalem you feel compelled
to walk through the Turkish walls that surround the Old City and as you repeat
to yourself the psalmist's words "I rejoiced with those who said to me, 'Let us
go to the house of the Lord' (Ps 122,1) you keep walking towards "the tomb of the
After a few minutes you find
yourself in a square and in front of a shabby façade with a cut off
belfry. You start wondering how could it be, that at this site there was a hill,
a garden and a new tomb. You almost give in to the temptation of completely ignoring what the guides say because this shocking experience has left
you speechless and confused.
This is too much for your pious expectations. Where have you ended up? Is this the place that has played such an important role during the centuries? Is this what you had expected to see? But then, all of a sudden it dawns on you and it starts to sink in.
HERE, at this site an important event took place. An event of LIGHT, a reality of LIFE, the mystery of SALVATION. You walk towards the shabby aedicula over the empty tomb and upon stepping in you almost hear for yourself the echo of the voice "He has risen! He is not here!". You kneel down and without being disturbed by the decorations put up at this spot you realize you are in the tomb where the Lord of Life lay dead and from where the Lord of Love triumphed over the powers of evil, the power of death! "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1Cor 15,55)
As you kneel down in silence, you hear the voice of Peter proclaiming "God raised him from
the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for
death to keep its hold on him."(Acts 2,24) or the voice of Paul: "We were therefore
buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was
raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new
life."(Rom 6,4). And when you come out of the tomb you realize that you are in
the New House of the Lord at the site where the "New and eternal Alliance" was
established between God and mankind through Jesus Christ.
Now you start to appreciate the coming and going of people from all nations and
facing the tomb under the newly decorated resplendent dome you recite the prayer said at this spot by Pope Paul VI on January 4th 1964:
By now you got over your initial amazement and you want to know more, you desire to understand this site and how it ended up the way it is today. But above all you want to feel the inner warmth it instills in those who with faith read the Gospels and realize they are the fulfilment of God's love for humanity.
© Text prepared by John Abela ofm based on articles and research
by Virgilio Corbo ofm, Michele
Piccirillo ofm and Eugenio Alliata ofm
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