To our dear friends on the occasion of Easter 2012

 

Translation from Arabic

Easter comes after a year of untold suffering, unpredictable and unimaginable for most of us. Unfortunately, what we wrote on the same occasion a year ago still applies to the current situation of our unhappy country. At that time, we had expressed our solidarity with the victims of the conflict and our participation in the expectation of those who were hoping for a deep reform of Syria without falling into the logic of violence, and fearing the explosion of civil war and loss of national unity. Misfortune has reached us and we fear the worst.

The spring has returned, and the Merciful gives us the grace to remain witnesses to the vocation of the Syrians, their divine destiny to live as good neighbors in spiritual harmony, mutual religious esteem, participation in the same civilization, social solidarity and unity in the good and bad days. Of course, we live in anguish as all. We are united with our families who are suffering heavy losses, and we share the disappointment of many people, especially our generous youth. We invoke mercy on those killed, and are plunged in grief before our fellow citizens whose humanity is in so many ways spoiled by hands that have not been ashamed to dirty by pouring the blood of their brothers and sisters, and even children.

On the occasion of this feast, we feel the temptation to take refuge in the religious celebration and its deep dogmatic meanings, and to escape through the window of symbols this demolished house and hover in the consoling spaces of imagination.

If only Jesus Christ, son of Mary, had not stepped on the soil of our homeland… we would have dreamt of a salvation coming from a distant land! If only his traitor was not a man born in the land of the prophets, thirsting for the coming of its Messiah… we could more easily succeed in putting the whole blame on the foreigners and the strangers! If only those who plotted his murder were not the priests of the Temple of Solomon in the noble Jerusalem, al-Quds, together with the oppressor – the Roman colonizers – and Herod, the king in his pay… we could justify our own prelates, sheikhs and notables! If only his disciples had not left him alone for fear of the crowd calling for his crucifixion! The crowd, led astray by those who should have guided it, so that it recognizes the truth, is committed to justice, and offers a worship which finds its fulfillment in mercy.

Yes, some of the closest accompanied him to the last moment, when he was hanging on the wood outside the gates of Jerusalem, and was inscribed on the cross “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” in three languages, for all to understand.

It is true that his mother stayed with him until the end, laying him on her knees, scarred by the most horrible torture.

Where to flee, as we celebrate with this feast the same scene which violates every day the innocence of our children: violence ugly and ignorant, whose images are used in the media to stir up the conflict.

A few days ago, the Palestinian people commemorated the “Day of the Land”, a land unjustly lost. While Jesus celebrated with his self-sacrifice a feast which was originally the Passover of the people of Moses from the fields of slavery to a land consecrated to life before God in worship through commitment to justice and equity. Passover means waiting for the day when all the people would reach salvation through knowledge of the Merciful, the day when, along with King David in the psalm, it will be said of the Holy City “in her every one was born” (Ps 87). We hope to see everyone in this region, oppressors and oppressed, gathered by the paternity of the Compassionate in one people, enjoying the goods of the earth in the pluralism of a fraternal understanding.

Some went so far as to say that his own disciples had stolen his body by malice, and to this day, there are Christians and non-Christians who find it hard to believe that God’s Messiah was disfigured and executed. Yet devout people still see the Savior in all those who in a fit of love, not hate, sacrifice themselves to the extent of no longer having human face.

In our calls for reconciliation between sons and daughters of God, we experience the living Christ, risen from the dead in us, forgiving our sins, effectively present, also through our intercession and yours, in this our world of poor people.

The citizens of our country are divided and fighting each other. It is not easy to achieve harmony of opinion, not even within the monastic community. We warmly thank all those who felt with the suffering of our people and expressed their solidarity with our support for the reform. We hope that once the crisis passed, we shall remember it as an opportunity that has enabled us to discover the path of acceptance of the other, the path of respect of his conscience beyond our differences, be it at the monastery, in the family, in the nation or beyond.

We thank all those who gathered the Syrians in laboratories of dialogue in various places abroad, so that they may send us messages of hope on how to understand each other and heal the wounded hearts.

We also thank all who have assisted us financially, and we sincerely apologize for not having always been able to personally express our gratitude to you. Please let us know, because the internet connection did not always work well.

The monastery was almost emptied of visitors and tourists in a year. These days, however, we are happy to welcome many local families who came to picnic on Friday, expressing their desire for peace.

We naturally consider it our duty to stay at the monastery in spite of the circumstances, and we chose to do so. After a particularly cold winter, we celebrate the resurrection among the flowers of a spring shy. Trusting in God, we pledge to maintain a presence at Deir Mar Musa, in the relatively safe region of Nebek which hosts a number of refugees from the cities of the armed conflict, as well as at Deir Mar Elian in Qaryatayn.

Throughout the year, we continued to work on our research, publishing and development projects. Few people were able to come to the monastery, but more than ever we could touch how the symbolic complex of the monastery has an impact on the Syrian society, in the region and around the world. Many regard the monastery as a model at the service of civil peace and brotherhood of believers, sons of Abraham. This pushes us to always give more.

From the heart, wherever you are, we wish you to rejoice in the splendor of the light of the empty tomb.

Al-Khalil Community

Comments

We all pray for the

We all pray for the solidarity of your country. Good news that people are now more aware that your monastery is a place of meditation which could be helpful for those seeking peace.

Lei MD