Franciscans friars celebrating Easter in Jerusalem

Long time ago, when I landed for the first time in the States, I attended some English classes for immigrants. My class was very diverse, in the early nineties, with a few Asians, some Central and South American, a lot of jewish from the recently “opened” communist regimes in Europe, most of them from de former Soviet Union, Arabs from rich oil countries, muslims from poor countries and a few Europeans. One day the conversation was about what historical personage you admire the most: Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, Washington, Einstein… Next to me used to sit a young man very silent and said without thinking and doubt: Jesus! The teacher asked why, and he said proudly: He is from my town! Yes, he was a Palestinian from Bethlehem. For the first time in my life I felt envy for something like that. I’m so proud to be Croatian that I though that never would happened to me, but that day I, as Christian understood that there’s no place like Bethlehem to call proudly your home and be a fellow citizen of Jesus, my Lord. As a journalist following World News, I have seen in dismay how this loved and Sacred places where Jesus, was born, lived, worked, taught, where was betrayed and killed in a Cross and as I believe rose from the death in that first Holy Sunday in Jerusalem, are the theater of violence, injustice and lack of freedom, including religious freedom. I followed the terrible siege of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002, whose consequences are not completely resolved yet.  And as the time advances, the situation worsens. Now we have the wall and there are more difficulties to reach the Christian Holy sites for the christians who leave five miles away from them than the ones who arrive in peregrinations organized from thousands of miles away. And they are the fellow country people of The Christ.  But if they happen to be Palestinians, and live in the West Bank they need a special permits limited by the israeli authorities to a certain number, (it seems this year 2.000 for about 50.000 christians) and after that they have to pass so many controls, that there is very difficult for them to arrive in time to the religious ceremonies of this Holy Week and the most important feast of the year: the Easter in the Sacred Tomb  Basilica of Jerusalem, where the great mystery of our salvation in wich we, christians believe, took place. And what to say for the christians who Live  in Gaza? A trip to Jerusalem is unthinkable. I imagine that for this christians in Palestine the situation is like a family starving in one side of a window with plain sight to a splendid banquet of fresh fruits meat and vegetables stolen from their own backyard. But they are unable to eat and forced to watch how completely strangers, rich and healthy take all without even noticing that they exist. A torture. For Jesus, the Holy Week wasn’t a feast, but a great deal of suffering: a betrayal, a torture, a cruel death and all to our salvation from evil. This is why I often think that the Middle East Christians are specially authentic. Our religion was born there. I use to pray for them also. Not only for the ones in Palestine, but in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey and so many other countries where they are living in great difficulties. Just today Radio Vatican informed about the death of the Patriarch emeritus of the Church of Antioch of the Syrians, His beatitude Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, born precisely in Homs, the city so badly devastated by the recently violence in the homeland of the deceased Cardinal.  The Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to the faithful of this Church and said that “In these days when we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord, remembering the people of the region who are living through difficult times, I pray that He may welcome into his joy and his peace, the soul of this faithful pastor who devoted himself with faith and generosity to the service of God’s people”. Syriac Catholics are now about 150,000 in the world, principally in Iraq, Syria and in the diaspora. Also de Pope spoke about the Middle East christians in his Easter’s message to the World today from de Vatican. He said: ” May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights. Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community. May the many refugees from that country who are in need of humanitarian assistance find the acceptance and solidarity capable of relieving their dreadful sufferings. May the paschal victory encourage the Iraqi people to spare no effort in pursuing the path of stability and development. In the Holy Land, may Israelis and Palestinians courageously take up anew the peace process.” Peace in the Holy Land, peace in the Middle East, it’s time! the problem is how if there is no apparently willing in so many powerful actors?

About Olga Brajnović

Journalist. In my fifties. I've worked for 26 years in a newspaper in Spain. I worked for two years as a stringer and correspondent in the US, and went as a special envoy to other places like the Balkans. Sea lover. Avid reader. Classic Music enthusiast.

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Ethics, Ideals, Journalism, Middle East, Our Life, World and Politics

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