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Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah leads demonstration in Aboud

Sunday 11th December 2005

"love is possible despite the evils we constantly live through" With these words Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, after the religious service with Aboud Catholic Community, led a peaceful march of one thousand people, Christians, Muslim Palestinians, and Jews towards the Apartheid wall building site on Aboud land. The march stopped three hundreds meters from the excavators in front of the soldiers blocking the access to the building site. There the Patriarch led a short worship and then planted an olive tree, symbol of the hundreds of trees that will be destroyed during construction of the wall on Aboud land. 

After the Patriarch’s departure, one hundred people stood in front of the soldiers singing slogans against the Wall. Israeli activist Jonothan Polack was arrested for trying to plant another olive tree.

Michel Sabbah in Aboud

Michel Sabbah Roman Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem  is helped by Palestinians to cross a dirt barrier set up by the Israeli army to block a road during the demonstration in Aboud Associated Press

love is possible despite the evils we constantly live through, and the evils imposed upon us.  Love is possible in this holy land; for this is the land of God

The 3rd Sunday from the Birth 11th December 2005  Aboud


We have come here today to join you and to lead you in prayers.  We have also come to strengthen your faith in these difficult times, especially in the particular ordeal you are going through due to the erection of the Apartheid wall, and the consequent confiscation of many of your lands.  This morning, God’s words to us are manifested in the following 3 readings:

In the first reading (Isaiah 61), profit Isaiah says: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."

God sends His messengers to preach to the poor, as well as to the marginalized, the infirm, and the oppressed. At the same time, the message is also addressed to the powerful and dominant; to those who causes pain and suffering to others.  Let the poor remember, their faith is their support in all situations of life.  By virtue of their faith, they shall not slacken; nor shall they refrain from resisting all tyranny and evil.  Armed with faith, the poor shall shed new light on events in their public and private lives; including the erection of the Apartheid wall, and the confiscation of the lands.  This is a vision where we see ourselves as moulders of our present and future history.  By not surrendering to weakness and humiliation; and by remaining spiritually strong, calling for justice, and for the love of God, we shall achieve our vision.  God’s message to us, all of us regardless of faith and race, to Palestinians, and Israelis. It is a message to every grieved person, a message to every political prisoner; as well as to every prisoner of the base self and ego, it is greed and the base self that produces oppression and tyranny towards others.

 Let every human being realize that their primary call is not to launch war, erect walls, infringe upon the properties of others, or to establish life and rights at the expense of others’ lives and others’ rights.  Rather, the primary call for a human being is universal love.  We are here to say love is possible despite the evils we constantly live through, and the evils imposed upon us.  Love is possible in this holy land; for this is the land of God, and what is God’s is attainable.  Love belongs to God; and thus is attainable in our hearts as well as in theirs.

As to what holds specific relevance to this town and its residents as far as human, political, and political issues, “the acceptable year of the Lord” to you, is for you to let your faith and love be your guide in your political work, and in your resistance. You may say that love is an unknown term in the language to politics, but love is possible in spite of all the evil we experience. It is incumbent that we shall make it possible, since with it life will flourish and prosper.  

Therefore, I herewith ask you for unity of your hearts and of your aims, despite the multiplicity and independence of the different parties.  Real liberty generates debate and discussion, but not friction; and does not strive to separate brothers.  Work all you can to serve the land and to win the election; but never at the expense of love and unity.  There are many hurdles and difficult relations in this town.  Each one of you is responsible for working out and eliminating these hurdles. The acceptable year of the Lord in this town, Aboud, is the year of unity and love.

We are approaching the anniversary of Christ’s birth; so let the joy of the Birth fill our hearts despite all the difficulties we go through.  In reality, it is because of the difficulties and misfortunes we are going through that we need to celebrate the spiritual joy of the Birth; which is God’s grace to us to help us remain strong.  And to quote the prophet Isaiah in the same first reading: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord.

In the second reading (1 Thessalonians 5: 16 -24) also says: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks. Quench not the spirit.”  Joy is connected with prayer; and prayer is being in the presence of God, and placing all efforts before him.  If our efforts breed love and joy, then they’re from God; however, if they breed hatred, hostilities and frictions, they are not from God.  Paul, the messenger, prays and pleads for all the believers saying: “The God of peace himself blessed you completely.” I urge you to pray so that we achieve peace and justice.  God will grant us peace and justice as long as we tread His path, knowing the path can be narrow and rocky.  Jesus Christ said,” Follow the narrow and difficult road; it will lead to life.”

In the third reading (John 1: 6…), we study John the Baptist who came before Christ. Saint John describes him as witness of the light:” There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light.” This should be the testimony of every believer:  Every action in the public or private life, every resistance necessary to regain our rights or demolish the wall, should keep us “witnesses of the light.”

When John was asked:” Who art thou?  What sayest thou of yourself?” He said he wasn’t Christ, or Elias, or the prophet; he said: “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness; make straight the way of the Lord.”  In this wilderness, this wilderness of Jordan , confess your sins and repent; and be baptized the baptism of salvation.  He tells us to repent to God in the wilderness of ourselves and our burdens; to walk in his presence, to continue building our lives with earnest efforts; all in his presence.

Dear Brethrens, in a few weeks we will celebrate the birth of Christ: The word of God as human, guiding us, keeping us company, and providing us with peace and joy.  He is the prince and provider of peace.  And we, through faith and love, shall seek our own peace and that of others; and to enjoy the justice we long for, with the help of God. With love and faith, we demand the removal of this wall, and say it is wrong and an infringement on our lands and our properties. It is an infringement on the relationship of love which is imperative between the two peoples.  We need bridges, not walls.  Walls isolate; nurse hatred and hostilities, resulting in more killing and acts of violence.  And therefore, those who erected the wall are clearly at fault.  Here we are, despite the seemingly positive inclinations towards peace, and despite the stubborn intentions of those who continue the construction, calling for a review of the matter and halt of the construction.  Let what is being spent on the construction of the wall be spent on building bridges of love among the hearts.

To this end we pray; following which we shall march in protest as an extension to our prayer. It will be a silent march asking God to answer our prayers.  We also ask the people of the world to listen to our call that the wall is destructive and harmful, and a source of much misery for us and for them.

We pray, and may our prayers be a source of peace for us and for them.  We pray for what is rightfully our, as well as what is rightfully theirs; as long as what is rightfully theirs is not achieved at our expense.  We will march and ask from God and the people to return the land that is rightfully ours; and bring love into the hearts of all.

Let’s place everything before Him, and ask Him to fill us with his spirit, strength, and love, so we always be witnesses of the light, true builders of the land and the country, planting the seeds of love, as well as a peaceful and secure life. Amen.

+Michel Sabbah+

Latin Patriarch-Jerusalem