From November 17-30, 2019, KAIROS – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, sent an ecumenical delegation to Palestine/Israel. The purpose of this delegation was to strengthen the collective, ecumenical and denominational advocacy and partnership work in Palestine/Israel. It was an important moment for CRC to express solidarity with KAIROS and denominational partners in the region as well as to invigorate and deepen advocacy work for peace with justice.
For this purpose, the CRC called out Father Paul Hansen, CSsR, to represent it in this delegation. We are delighted to share with you his report below.
ADVENT – CHRISTMAS
A TERRIBLE BEAUTY
As my mother was dying I asked her if she had anything to say to me before she journeyed to the Fullness of Life.
She said two things: “Paul be Proud of your name and Never forget what you have Seen and Heard.”
Well this Advent I found myself living in Bethlehem for two weeks as part of an Ecumenical Church Delegation to Palestine. And I have seen and heard things that I wished I had not. I experienced the Degradation of the Human, Houses Bulldozed, Check Points, Walls, Raids in the middle of the night to arrest children
who had thrown stones and Occupation of Palestinian lands by Settlers. It seems to me, having studied theology in Germany, that what the Nazis did to the Jews,
Israel is doing to the Palestinians.
Jesus was a Palestinian and he too lived in an Occupied land. The Romans ruled with the help of the religion of the day. Jesus was born as a gesture of Hope. I encountered a woman whose five sons were in Israeli Military jails. She was smiling when I met her. I asked her how she could have hope. Her answer shocked me: “I believe in a God who cares.” I wondered if in a similar situation I could say the same.
Our world this Advent-Christmas is crying out for hope and a future. We are dealing with major threats to the planet and to the lives of many all over the world. Where do we find hope?
May I suggest that we pause and appreciate the meaning of Christmas. It is not about money, material gifts and Occupying, but having a faith that the God of life walks with us. The Jesus of Nazareth has given us Attitudes of Being human for these our times. This is the beauty which I ask you to contemplate in this Christmas season.
Photo: The KAIROS ecumenical delegation to Palestine/Israel. Courtesy of KAIROS.