|Christian Unity & Solidarity In The Holy Land|
|Thursday, 21 August 2008 21:58|
Deacon Tom & Mary Jane Fox
"I rejoiced because they said to me, we will go up to the house of the Lord, and now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem...Jerusalem built as a citywith compact unity." (Psalm 122)
As members of the Body of Christ, we must never forget Christianity was founded in Jerusalem (the Church established by Christ and the twelve Apostles). The Church in the Holy Land which includes Jordan, Israel and Palestine, is referred to as our Mother Church. Indeed an appropriate reality, the Latin Patriarch, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah often states that when Mother Church suffers, the entire Church suffers with her. The Christians in the Holy Land are Arab and Palestinian, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, the descendants of the early church. When asked "What do you want us to tell the American Christian population?"; the response is one of a desperate cry - not to forget them, to pray for them and to hear their stories. They are concerned that the majority of the world believes that all Palestinians are terrorists, but their desire is to live in peace and justice for all. The main cause of the suffering is the Israeli Military Occupation, the building of the Wall, numerous Israeli military checkpoints, unemployment, lack of medical treatment, illegal confiscation of land, destruction of homes and olive tree groves and in one village - the destruction of an ancient Catholic Church built in the 5th century, St. Barbara in Aboud, Palestine.
At this time Christians make up less than 2 percent of the population; in 1948 they were at 18 percent. In spite of the harsh, difficult life, the Arab Christians live with much faith and in unity. Their hope is in their faith and in other Christians who will pray for them and not to forget their presence in the land our Lord sanctified. They are called to be the peacemakers among a land important to three faiths - Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Father Alex Kratz, O.F.M., a young priest from Detroit living in Birzeit, Palestine for one year and who traveled with our group said we are called to be an apostle...to hear, see, and tell, to be a Holy Land Ambassador. The Latin Patriarch the local Bishops invite Christians from around the world to travel on pilgrimage - by praying at the holy sites, by visiting the local restaurants and hotels operated by Christians, merely by our presence- we are encouraging and supporting the Mother Church.
People ask, is it safe? Our group never experienced any harm or danger. Visiting the Holy Land as a pilgrim people on group pilgrimage is an excellent and very safe way to experience the Holy Land. Pilgrim groups from the U.S., Europe and Africa are notably increasing and there is an increase in reservations for this New Year. We invite you to join us on a Holy Land Pilgrimage from San Antonio departing on April 27, 2004 and returning May 8th. Travel by private motor coach, a local licensed Christian guide; stay in the Vatican's hotel, the Notre Dame and with the Franciscans and Carmelites on the Mt. of Beatitudes and on Mt. Carmel. Come and See! Come and walk in the footsteps of our Lord and in union with Mother Church of Jerusalem! Contact us at the Pilgrim Center of Hope at 210-521-3377 for more information.