Dear brothers and sisters,
I wish you a Holy Easter.
For us Christians, Easter is the base of our faith. In fact, St. Paul says that if Jesus Christ was not resurrected, our faith is vain. Even though in the Gulf we celebrate on Friday the liturgy of Sunday, we must never neglect that Sunday is essential for us. When we neglect Sunday, we become believers in any religion, not Christians any more.
But we shall have a holy Easter if we prepare ourselves for that great feast. Lent, and especially the Holy Week, is the precious time for our preparation to meet Jesus Christ at Easter as the Lamb who took away the sin of the world, all our sins.
We open the door to sin when we choose to follow our own ideas and not the will of God. An example is Barabbas.
Who was Barabbas? As reported by Pope Benedict XVI, according to many ancient manuscripts of the Gospels, the name of Barabbas was Jesus. In fact, Barabbas means “son of the father” (Bar – son; Abba – father). His own name is not mentioned now in any of the four Gospels. But he had his own name, and ancient manuscripts wrote “Jesus” as his personal name. Later, perhaps in order not to put Barabbas equal to Jesus, the personal name (Jesus) of Barabbas was abandoned.
But Jesus is also Son of the Father: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Mt 17:5). So, we have two persons: Jesus of Nazareth, Son of the Father, and Jesus Barabbas, son of the father. Two persons with exactly the same name.
Pontius Pilate asked the people to choose between Jesus Son of the Father (Jesus of Nazareth) and Jesus son of the father (Barabbas). They wanted that Jesus son of the father (Barabbas) be free and Jesus Son of the Father (Jesus of Nazareth) be crucified. Why this choice?
Barabbas was a man who wanted to free Israel from the Roman Empire domination and for that he used violence, committed crimes, was ready to give up his life for the liberation of his country. Instead, Jesus of Nazareth spoke about love to enemies (Mt 5:44-45), to give the other cheek (Mt 5:39) , to be meek and humble of heart (Mt 11:29), to be peacemakers (Mt 5:9), to look first for the Kingdom of God (Mt 6:33). Very good teaching but considered not practical by the people. They were in need of liberation, not of words of peace and forgiveness. So, we should not be astonished if they chose Jesus son of the father (Barabbas) and not Jesus Son of the Father (Jesus of Nazareth). They chose according to their own interest, not according to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, considered abstract, theoretical, useless.
Who won? The way of Jesus son of the father (Barabbas) later led the people to a violent revolt against Rome and in the year 70 Jerusalem was occupied by the Roman army and the temple destroyed. Another revolt in the year 135 was repressed by the Roman Empire and all the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem, prevented to go back; they were concentrated in the present day Tel Aviv. The violence of Jesus son of the father (Barabbas) led to the destruction of Israel.
In the year 378, after many persecutions and thousands of people died as martyrs, Christianity was declared the religion of the Roman Empire! The violence of Jesus son of the father (Barabbas) wanted to destroy the Roman Empire but it destroyed Israel, and it is the “abstract, theoretical and useless teaching” of Jesus Son of the Father (Jesus of Nazareth) who overthrew the Roman Empire! Jesus Son of the Father (Jesus of Nazareth) won!
Dear brothers and sisters, when we follow our own interests we find death, when we follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth we find peace, joy, true life.
+ Camillo Ballin, mccj
Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia)