How to Think About Advent and Christmas in Times of War?

MAB: Marie-Armelle Beaulieu/CTS

Even if the guns have fallen silent by the time you read these lines, this new war in Gaza has shaken everyone's conscience.

Our hearts are the battleground of our convictions. Yet the Christian faith invites us to think about these dark hours in the order of salvation.

At the beginning of Advent, Terre Sainte Magazine asked Christians to tell how the present situation inspires them as they await the "Prince of Peace".

Tired... We Need Rest

MAB: Marie-Armelle Beaulieu/CTS

Sr Camelia El Khoury,
Religieuse de Nazareth
of Maronite origin in the service of the church in Galilee

Nazareth, 3 novembre 2023

"Come to me, all you that labor under heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Mt 11:28.

Yes, today we all need such words that remind us that our true calling is to place ourselves in the hands of the One who loves us and waits for us. He invites us every moment to enter into his rest. Yes, we are all tired... And we need rest.

Tired of sadness and sorrow in a land where the Angel Gabriel brought joy to Mary full of grace. Tired of the war and violence that tear this land apart, a land which one day danced with hymns of praise sung by the voices of Angels announcing peace to the shepherds. Tired of seeing children and innocent people die in a land where the Savior was found as a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Tired of injustice in a land where the Father's Beloved came to bring justice. Tired of wanting to eliminate the other in a land where the Son of God promised that there are many mansions in his Father's house. Tired of hearing the roar of guns in a land where crowds and children shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David."  Tired of high walls of hatred in a land where Emmanuel came to bind Heaven and Earth with his Holy Cross.

Tired by the smell of death that invades our souls in a land where the Holy One of God, by his death, conquered death. Tired of the darkness leaving as orphans, those who are wounded in their bodies and those who are deeply traumatized in their souls.

What if one of them is the child we were expecting? What if each of them is that child?

Fear and worry are intensified by political and military leaders who justify the death, maiming and injury of these children. These modern-day Herods slaughter and attack infants, equating them with the enemy. And what if each one of them were the one who was born for us, the one who will open the horizon of hope so firmly closed by the ideologies of victory that resound.

This Christmas will be an opportunity to make peace with the voices in me that cry out in despair and refuse to believe in a better tomorrow. The memory of Jesus' birth should remind me that, despite the violence, the thirst for vengeance, the calls for destruction, God is active here and now as he was two thousand years ago.

It's Time to Act for Real Peace

MAB: Marie-Armelle Beaulieu/CTS

Latin Patriarch Emeritus
S. B. Michel Sabbah (1987-2008)

Jerusalem, November 2, 2023

There is a new war in Gaza. There have been wars in Gaza every two or three years. This time, the war began with a surprise attack by Hamas, followed by a large massacre of Israelis. A war crime. It is a continuation of the extermination or transfer, ordered by Israel, of the population of Gaza – 2,300,000 thousand people. Another war crime.

The war in Gaza is only a symptom of the original problem: the conflict between the Palestinian people and Israel. It is a war that began in 1948 and has never been resolved to this day. The wars increased and, following the siege imposed on the Gaza territory after the war of 2007, deaths, more victims, destruction, and thousands of Palestinian political prisoners.

What is needed now, right now, and as soon as possible, is to stop this war. Stop human sacrifices on both sides. Ensure the exchange of prisoners on both sides and have the humanity and courage to resolve the fundamental conflict, which has not been resolved since 1948.

Think about it. All of them, Israelis and Palestinians, are human beings, equally created by God. They necessarily enjoy equal dignity and equal rights. No people is superior to another. Two states, each people secure in its own state.

The Palestinians were willing to accept the following resolution: "Israel would keep 78 percent of our country and let us create our state on the 22 percent occupied in 1967." Israel replied that there would never be a Palestinian state. Even the radical Palestinians (Hamas and others...) accepted this 22% solution... But since Israel said no, they have become radicalized in their resistance and don't want to hear about Israel anymore.

Today in Gaza, all over Palestine, and in Israel, there are men and women who are dying, suffering ... We must recover our humanity and seek justice in order to guarantee security and human dignity for all. It is time to act for a real, just peace that respects the human being in both peoples, despite whatever the the "powerful" might plan ... It is time to see in the Jew as well as in the Palestinian a human being who can guide us to peace.  And then we will see no more wars in Gaza or elsewhere in all of Palestine; and Israel will find its security, and its children will sleep in peace.



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