Assis Naim Ateek Easter Homily 

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his suffering by becoming like him in his death. Philippians 3:10

What is the Significance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation?

We believe that by the power of Almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.  We also believe that some of our Palestinian forefathers and foremothers witnessed that event, 2000 years ago.  The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Corinth in AD 53, said that over 500 persons witnessed to the resurrection.

Today, we believe that there are four aspects of Christ’s resurrected life which we can affirm and share:

  1. In his resurrection, the risen Jesus Christ, conquered death and prevailed over sin and evil. 
  2. To share in Christ’s suffering is to share in the struggles, hardships, and suffering whenever we stand for justice and truth today.
  3. To become like Jesus in his death: For the Apostle Paul who wrote these words, he might have anticipated his martyrdom in Rome for proclaiming the truth about Christ’s resurrection.  However, to become “like Jesus” in his death means to be faithful to the love and truth of God, even if it leads to death. 
  4. Furthermore, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, the risen Christ has given us the hope and assurance of eternal life.

The resurrection of Christ has become a paradigm used and utilized by many oppressed Christians in the world.  Resurrection stands for God’s gift of new life, it stands for the liberation of oppressed people, it stands for salvation for all who turn to God from sin and evil.  It stands for victory and freedom when evil, injustice, and racism are defeated and vanquished in our world today.    

Palestinian Christians and Muslims have been oppressed by the government of Israel for many years and they have been resisting the illegal occupation of their homeland, Palestine.   Palestinians have been condemning the violations of their human, civil, and political rights.  They have been crying out for liberation.  They have endured the humiliation, dehumanization, and insults of the Israeli apartheid system imposed on them by the Israeli occupying forces.  Their homes have been demolished, their farms have been confiscated, their human dignity has been trampled upon.

Indeed, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was preceded by his humiliation, suffering, and death.  Our Palestinian people continue to endure suffering and humiliation at the hands of the Israeli army.  Our people look for the dawn of liberation, justice, and peace.  We believe that the great liberator God of history will liberate the oppressed including the Palestinians and they will be free.  God will vindicate them.  Our political prisoners will be released, our refugees will return, and international law and United Nations’ resolutions will be implemented.  It is also important that God can and will work through us humans to bring about liberation.  Our faith and trust are on the one and only authentic God who liberates, saves, and restores freedom and wellbeing.  Injustice will not last forever, and like in Jesus’ resurrection, injustice does not have the final word.    God’s love and justice have the final word, and it is the word of life and liberation.  Indeed, the day will come, we pray soon, when the darkness of occupation would vanish, and the dawn of resurrection will shine brightly and God will be praised, adored, and glorified through the achievement and realization of justice and peace.

What does the resurrection mean for us Palestinians?  Resurrection stands for new life of freedom and victory.  Resurrection means:

  1. Victory of life over death.  
  2. Victory of light over the darkness of occupation.
  3. Victory of love over hate.
  4. Victory of justice over oppression
  5. Victory of compassion over hardness and callousness of heart
  6. Victory of hope over despair
  7. Victory of peace over conflict and war
  8. Victory of reconciliation and forgiveness over revenge and vengeance
  9. Victory of nonviolence over violence
  10. Victory of peace, security, and wellbeing over chaos, insecurity, and fear.

This is what Resurrection means for us.  It also carries with it responsibility and accountability.  This must be our earnest and fervent prayer to God as we remember Christ’s victory over evil and death. 

My dear Friends, let us put some hands, feet, and voices to this prayer and continue the work of liberation, justice, and mercy for our Palestinians people.  Amen. 

Naim Ateek

Easter 2023