Steadfastness in the Lord (By Gabriel Hanna)December 19, 2023
When Justice Will Prevail over Aggression? (By Mikhail Rishmawi)December 19, 2023
Healing for Humanity and Restoration of its Dignity
Our people are experiencing difficult times with the violent and painful invasion of Gaza. There is war, displacement, and destruction everywhere, as well as discrimination, ethnic genocide, and shedding of blood! Do we wonder about God’s silence? No, but rather about the deep decline of humanity and the illicit occupation without any religious, moral, or ethical deterrent.
We were shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of our children, some of whom experienced the most severe pain for hours and days under the rubble of bombed buildings. I look with pain at the Gaza Strip, and I remember the invasion of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002 for forty days. The tanks of the occupation besieged and bombed the birthplace of Jesus, where Palestinians, Muslims, and Christians took refuge, along with the monks and the residents of the monastery. The birthplace of Jesus is a shrine and a refuge for the people of the town. Christians and Muslims used to meet together in brotherhood and love. The birthplace of Jesus brought them together in the dark and difficult moments of resistance to aggression. It was a shelter for humanity and patriotism, embodying justice, and equal opportunity for the people of the town.
Although invasions and attacks vary in their violence and results, however, they are connected in their meaning. They reflect the invasion of human dignity by the forces of evil; and the invasion of the spirit of humanity that God formulated for man. Rather, the sin of the occupation infringed on God Himself and attacked the image of God in the humans. Here in the birthplace of Jesus, I stand and contemplate the proximity of Christmas. We have always viewed Christmas as a true invitation for Christ to stay among us. However, I cannot see Christ go to see our suffering people with joy and stay amid our distress. He does not want us to receive him on his birth in festivity, but rather we see him coming to embrace our oppressed people amid the silence of human justice and the spread of prejudice. We see him coming wounded and in pain among the rubble, accompanying the tormented and broken, for the sake of healing our humanity and the dignity of our people.
Christ came as a human being to lift our humanity. He also came as a God so that we can see salvation in Him. It is the promised salvation from sin and destruction, but it is also salvation from human injustice, oppression, aggression, deterioration of humanity, and loss of conscience everywhere. Divine hope must penetrate, and steadfastness must triumph despite oppression and darkness. Christmas calls us to look with hope, to see God’s presence with the oppressed, broken, and suffering, to cross toward a better life. Christmas is a call to steadfastness. Christ in his life personified morality and steadfastness. He personified courage in the face of threats and confronted injustice, and lack of righteousness. He crowned his teachings by placing the priority of love for God and man’s love for his fellow man. We live in our land because this is what God wanted for us. Resilience and steadfastness with hope can only be understood within the framework of this divine call. Our eyes feel tired after crying and our hearts are tired waiting for a relief that is not on the horizon. We must look at the birth of Christ as the mystery of God present among us. We believe He is present because He does not forget His people. We believe in the peace that He grants and even wait for it, a peace that will rebuild justice, equality, and life for our people. A peace that restores the lost humanity and restores its dignity as befits the image of God with which we were created.