On September 21, those gathered at Theology on Tap listened to Ninette D’Souza and Fr. Bob Holmes as they shared stories of individual Palestinian Christians they have met in order to tell “The Story of the Christians of Bethlehem Today”.
Ninette explained that she had been on a Basilian Peace and Justice pilgrimage with Fr. Bob to the Holy Land in 2008. The Palestinians there told her that the best thing she could do upon returning home was to “tell the true story” of the Palestinians.
The stories of the people she met and her own witness contained accounts of confiscation of Palestinian land, inaccessibility to health care, restriction of freedom of movement, denied access to one’s own land and natural resources for food and water, and separation from family. Much of this daily life of harassment and oppression is related to the 26 ft, 400 mile concrete Separation Wall. Both speakers emphasized: “it is not a security wall”. It doesn’t “separate Israelis from Palestinians but Palestinians of Jerusalem from Palestinians of Bethlehem”.
And yet, Fr. Bob Holmes shared stories of hope in the Holy Land. Another untold story is that Palestinian Christians are “leaders of the non-violent resistance movement” in the Holy Land — and it is a strong movement! Through groups such as the Christian Peacemaker Team and its partners, local Muslims and Christians work together for peace. Elias Chacour, Archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church in Galilee has a vision that “education is the solution”. Thus, he has a school with Christian and Muslim students and Christian, Muslim and Jewish faculty. It is a model of what is possible!
After hearing the Palestinian Christian’s true story, Fr. Bob seemed to be calling the audience to action as he closed with the Aramaic-English translation of the Beatitudes… “Get moving you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for you shall be satisfied…. Get moving you peacemakers, for you shall be called sons of God…”.
by a Faith Connections volunteer
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