Christians celebrate Easter in isolation, the extraordinary display of the holy shroud reminds us of God’s love that saves
“Because life is measured by love”. Pope Francis said on the first Palm Sunday broadcast live and celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica, in an empty square – as was the one on March 27, during the pray for the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. For Christians this year, Easter, in which the resurrection of Christ is commemorated, will be lived in isolation, the luckiest with their families, in many suns. The new coronavirus shows man’s impotence in the face of certain events, lays bare our fears, reveals the loneliness of the human condition, arousing a desperate need for love. In the time when the new plague devastates our lives, banishing hugs, kisses and handshakes, the need for love becomes more concrete. The covid-19 involuntarily becomes the bearer of another love message: with the closure of mosques, churches, temples and synagogues, the only place where we can meet with God remains our heart.
We then desperately seek love, to overcome the pain that is devastating us, especially those who have lost relatives or have a loved one hospitalized. The question that has always plagued the humanity returns to torment us during this health global emergency: ‘Why does God allow all this? Where is his mercy? Where his love? “. For Christians, even Jesus, on the Cross, experienced abandonment. “Because when we feel our backs against the wall, when we find ourselves in a dead end, with no light and no way out, when it seems that even God is not responding, we remember that we are not alone”. Pope Francis said, adding that “today, in the tragedy of the pandemic, in the face of so many certainties that crumble, in the face of so many betrayed expectations, in the sense of abandonment that grieves our hearts, Jesus says to everyone: Courage: open the heart to my love. You will feel the consolation of God, who sustains you “. “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” Jesus also asked when alone on the cross.
But sometimes, faith is not enough. We need something material that reminds us of God’s love for us. To remind us that love is stronger and this force will save us once again. “This is the Easter announcement that the Shroud brings us to relive and fills our hearts with gratitude and faith. Faith in his resurrection”. The bishop of Turin said, announcing the extraordinary worldwide exhibition of the Holy Shroud on live streaming on Saturday. The Shroud, the linen veil that enclosed the body of Jesus, shows how Jesus lived the pain, like us, more than we do today. It testifies to us his closeness, his resemblance to us in suffering. But it indicates also that the ultimate goal is not death. In his battered body we see the traces of flagellation, the crowning of thorns and beatings that prelude to the death sentence; the mold left in the wounds of the knees, caused by the falls; the traces on the shoulders of the patibulum, the cross. And again, we see the reopening of the scourging wounds, when Jesus is removed from his tunic; the nail holes on the wrists and feet, an evident trace of the crucifixion; the sign of death, in the great wound on the side from which blood and serum flow. Finally, the deposition and burial in the white sheet procured by Giuseppe of Arimatea.
The world today needs the physicality of those wounds, which make Jesus so close to us. But the Shroud ignites hope – which becomes certainty – that it does not end with death. We see the image of his body, composed and solemn, but imprinted in a mysterious way by a phenomenon that has yellowed linen as light does. The remaining blood crusts, partially dissolved, testify a contact time of about 36-40 hours. The hours of the evening of Good Friday, of Holy Saturday, of the dawn of Easter. Not more. That body did not remain in the sepulchre, there are no signs of putrefaction. The Shroud as well as the crucifix, which Pope Francis invites us to look at, helps us find something solid to hold on to, like the migrant who drowns in the middle of the sea clings to the lifebuoy of the rescuers. Like the cloak of Jesus, which the sick woman wanted to touch in order to be healed. In a time when we feel the fear of death stronger, the Shroud encloses us with the warmth of the love of the One who gave his life for us. “Contemplating that face it is not us looking at Him but He is who looks at us and invites us to consider how much he suffered for our salvation but also how much this suffering is a prelude to the Easter of Resurrection and therefore a source of life and hope for all” . Suggests the Pope. God saved us by letting our evil rage on him. Without reacting, only with the humility, patience and obedience of the servant, exclusively with the strength of love. For believers, God did not defeat the evil that fell upon his son Jesus, but supported his suffering, so that our evil could be overcome only with good, so that it would be completely crossed by love. Without a COVID-19 vaccine or medicine, the only certainty we have is that love will save us.
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