Palestinians & Israelis like Jesus, int’l community like Apostles?

May 12, 2009

It’s not often you hear the Palestinians and Israelis compared to Jesus or the international community likened to Christ’s closest disciples. But the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, did just that in his address at Pope Benedict’s Mass in the Valley of Josephat today. This is the valley just east of the old city of Jerusalem, close to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed in agony before he was arrested by the Romans led by Judas. The Apostles Peter, James and John had accompanied him but they stayed a short distance away and fell asleep while Jesus prayed. Twal used this image to make a link between that Gospel episode and current day Middle East politics:

pope-gethsemane-2Just a few yards from here, Jesus said to his most favored disciples “Remain here, and watch with me” (Mt. 26:39). But these same disciples closed their eyes, not losing sleep over Jesus’ agony, only a short distance away in the Garden of Gethsemane.”

(Photo: Pope arrives for Mass with the eastern wall of Jerusalem’s old city is visible in the background, 12 May 2009/Yannis Behrakis)

Holy Father, today, in many ways, the situation has not changed: around us, we have the agony of the Palestinian people, who dream of living in a free and independent Palestinian State, but have not found its realization; and the agony of the Israeli people, who dream of a normal life in peace and security and, despite all their military and mass media might, have not found its realization.

“And the international community, just like Jesus’ beloved disciples, stands apart, eyes drooping with indifference, unconcerned with the agony of the Holy Land, which has gone on for sixty-one years, and does not seriously rouse itself, to find a just solution. In this Valley of Jehosephat, a valley of tears, we raise our prayer for the realization of the dreams of these two peoples. We raise our prayer for Jerusalem, to be shared by the two peoples and three religions.

On this very Mount of Olives, Jesus wept in vain over Jerusalem, and continues to do so, with the disillusioned refugees, without any hope of return, with the widows of the victims of violence and the many families in this city, who every day see their homes demolished because, it is said, “they were built illegally,” when the whole situation is illegal and still looking for a solution.

“Above where we stand now, Our Lord cried out: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children – all your children, Jews, Christians and Muslim – and you would not!” (Lk 13:34)

Unlike his predecessor Michel Sabbah, Twal — who became patriarch last year — is not Palestinian but Jordanian.

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Archbishop Twal refers to the “situation” being illegal. What situation? The settling of land by the Hebrews as promised by God? The UN Mandate establishing the State of Israel? Rubbish! Also,the quote above attributed to Luke 13:34 references a hen or bird gathering her brood. There is no mention of “Jews, Christians, Muslim” in the New Testament within the cited text. We cannot take, or allowed to be taken, the words of Christ out of context, nor can we try to be politically correct by putting words into the Lord’s mouth. The solution is simple: Christians must remember that Jesus was not and is not a Christian but a Jew, a teacher, a rabbi. As a Christian I feel a kinship to the Jews because our Saviour is a Jew. Muslims must remember and respect the fact that God gave the Hebrews/Jews the land of Israel in Palestine and to wage terror on Israel is to defile the word of God. And Israel must share the bounty that God has given her by extending and continuing to extend the olive branch of peace toward Palestinians who can and want to live in peace, ignoring the political rhetoric of both sides.

Posted by David Bacon | Report as abusive