Saturday, March 22, 2008
In Defence of Faith
That rascal Millenium has been having a bit of an Easter rant, which prompted me to throw my tenpenneth in. There are many of faith and none who wind us all up endlessly. However, I just received a truly moving missive from someone I regard as a real spiritual mentor.
Elias (Abuna) Chacour is Archbishop of the Melkite Church in Israel. He is a man who is a refugee in his own country. As a dispossessed Palestinian he took the view that he had a choice, to become a terrorist, to become passive.......or to try to find a middle way. I have never in my life heard anyone speak so eloquently about the situation in Israel Palestine. He is a man, who throughout his house has one recurring biblical text "thou shalt not kill". This belief he has instilled in the children in his multi faith multi ethnic school in Galilee. The most moving story I heard from him about this was of when he was in Jerusalem for the inquest into the brutal killing of one of his pupils Asil Asleh during the last Intafada. (Asil, one of the brightest pupils in the school, was watching a protest, wearing his "Seeds of Peace" T Shirt, from behind an olive tree when he was shot in the neck). He was in the court and saw one of his ex pupils, a young man from the Druze community, shackled and handcuffed. He asked why he was there, the young man replied that he had refused to serve in the army and so had been imprisoned, he said "Abuna (Arabic for Father), I remembered what you said, that we should not kill".
Elias has been in poor health and is dealing with a difficult situation as an advocate for the Palestinian citizens of Israel. He does not have the luxury to worry about "straining the gnats" as do some of our fellow Christians in this country. He worries about what he can do to advance the cause of peace. Most moving for me in his Easter message were his words "For a very long time I have given up worrying about how long I shall live. Rather I am worried about what do I live for." Whether we are of faith or of none, I trust that this is a sentiment that would strike a chord with all of us.