Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year 2009 - 5769 - 1230

Dear Friends,

Best wishes for a blessed new international year 2009. Blessings, health, success, and the many wishes you would like to add.

We pray for peace on this international day. January 1st is the usual day of prayer for peace in the Catholic Church. Then, this year the heads of the Churches in Jerusalem decided to organize a common day of prayer for peace in "the country" on Sunday 4th of January 2009. In between, specific Jewish and Israeli groups organized a day of prayers for the Israel Defense Forces [I.D.F.]. I called to pray for the I.D.F. and I add of course that we ought to pray for the Arab and Palestinian people.

Our prayer cannot consist in a sort of gloomy mumbling in silence out of fear of the Jews, the Arabs, the one terrorists there and the other terrorists here and definitely not "under condition of anonymous prayers conducted in an isolated if not fenced way for each group, denomination, ethnicity, citizenship etc". At this point, it would develop into a dramatic and pathetic farce and joke. We are not "religious jesters and clowns (letzim = לצים - cf. Psalm 1:1.2).

When we pray, we do recognize that we are sinners and can be save or at least that we can have a part in redemption. The usual standards in the Holy Land consist to avoid mentioning any ethnicity, country, State or government. In the past 12 years in Jerusalem, I have always mentioned in the course of the Divine Liturgy the States where the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem is active (Israel, Jordan, Palestine/Palestinian Authorities, then Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates) and systematically add the names of the countries and States in deep trouble or connected with the present inhabitant of Jerusalem: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Greece, Cyprus, Russia, the Ukraine, Romania, Georgia, Armenia and any other region submitted to various troubles like Indonesia (tsunami hurricane), i.a.).I also systematically mention the heads of the States and both the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian presidents, chairmen, king and prime ministers and their army. It is the ancient and normal Christian Orthodox tradition. It is an intercession that is on line with the old command given by Paul of Tarsus. The Jewish tradition had always maintained this kind of intercession even in the worse times (Hitler, Stalin).

When we pray, it does not mean that we agree with politics, social and economic problems. It means that we sympathize and offer our lives so that God may have mercy and that people can act with righteousness and faith. None can say s/he is just. But we have to mention the names. By mentioning a State, we recognize that citizenship exists and are not somehow out of the blue moon. This "under condition of anonymity up-to-the-minute tendency" is a nonsense. Moreover, there is no fear in praying to God for any living soul. This is indeed very significant in Jerusalem.

The I.D.F. encompasses soldiers or volunteers and people of all ethnicities, creeds. There are a lot of Eastern Orthodox believers in the Israeli Army; it is often not known or ignored that there are also Christian and Muslim Arabs, Bedouins, Druzes. The Israeli Police are intermingled and have police[wo]men of all origins. And it is evident that we must pray for all of the Arab people As a local priest, I cannot just close my eyes and "pray, praise to the Lord and basta!, over!" I do not discuss about "war". Abraham had a tent and hosted anybody under this four corner open shelter. "The gates of prayer are always open": they allow us to unite in the prayer, in a visible way; to cry out, beg, demand, invoke, supplicate and search God's mercy in terrible times of hardships. At that time, there are "no Jews or Greeks or Gentiles" and we ought to remember that we have some brains and a heart.

It is evident that we wish each other all the best. Nobody would dare write or call on the phone and say that they want people to die, perish or crash. We have to be trustworthy in the words that we use. I can only call blessings upon all the people I know, forgive all wrong I have suffered or I have caused. I have to call blessings upon all my enemies, those who hate and those who love me or hardly can tolerate and stand me and vice versa.

We have no right to lie in calling for prayers. Praying consists in a self-offering, a real sacrifice for the others first. Saint James wrote: "The one who says he doe not love his fellowmen that he sees, cannot pretend to love God Whom he does not see". We lie if we cannot love or be at peace or search peace at the price it may cost us, the highest price.

We cannot say that we call for peace and love if we do not recognize our fellow people.We have no right to compliment each other if we do not truly agree to walk and have a real look at the human nature and longings of our human brothers and sisters.

Please do remember that Hebrew shalom - Arabic salaam have a special Semitic root: it means "to pay" and this is connected with "ransom, reimburse, redeem, pay cash". Peace is not a flirtatious flower-beauty word. The same: the first word of the Song of the Song is "Yishakeni - ישקני - kiss me" - still the Hebrew word "neshikot\נשיקות - kisses - is related to 'neshek = נשק - weapon". Indeed, as animals survive like beasts and by some frightful basic instinct, humans may at times only show as killers and blood-thirsty murderers.

Tonight, war is going on in the State of Israel and in the Gaza Strip. There is no need to know who is stronger or weaker. There is one commandment: "לא תרצח - Thou shalt not kill". Each of us share a responsibility and also the plight to correct the wrong image shown these days not only in the Middle-East but also in many regions like Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Pakistan. Most of the countries of the world behave without any sense of decency.

Deep in our hearts, we do believe: we shall overcome one day; much more: one day the Divine Presence will oblige us to to turn our fellow people and share miraculous love,
kisses and a nice tea under a tent. Best Season's greetings to all,

with love,

av a.
I have a dream (Jd)
exotic chocolates (Jd)
lovers (C.B.)
Can a tree feel alone?

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