Monday, October 28
In 1965 a newly ordained Melkite Catholic priest returned to Biram, his home village in the Upper Galilee, which Zionist troops evacuated in 1948 and later destroyed as they established the State of Israel. Elias Chacour found little left of his childhood home except a surviving fig tree. He recalled his father’s words: “The Jews and Palestinians are blood brothers. We must never forget that.” Moving to the Mount of Beatitudes, he meditated on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He left convinced that if he was to be a true servant of God and people, his first calling was to be a peacemaker.
His calling as a peacemaker was tested in his first parish, Ibillin, a deeply divided Palestinian Christian congregation. After a year and a half, a tipping point came at the end of the Palm Sunday Eucharist, when he padlocked the entrance door, saying: “You are a people divided. You argue and hate each other. Not loving your visible brothers, how can you say you love an invisible God?” Speaking of his failure to unite them, he invited the members to ask Jesus for the power to forgive. Tense silence followed. Then one leader moved to ask forgiveness, and suddenly acts of forgiveness overflowed.
What followed were multiplied loaves: serving Christ among Muslims and Christians; bridging the divide between the Greek Orthodox and the Melkite Catholics in Ibillin; leading a peace walk in Jerusalem with many Jewish friends; building libraries and then schools—a kindergarten, an elementary school, and a junior and a senior high school—that today educate over 3,200 students, building peace on desktops.
Appointed in 2006, Abuna Elias Chacour, the first Palestinian Archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church in Akko, Haifa, Nazareth, and all Galilee, continues to work daily for just peace. Visit www.pilgrimsofibillin.org for more information.
Let us join in prayer for:
The Diyar Consortium and the International Center of Bethlehem: Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, general director • The East Jerusalem YMCA: Mr. Andre Batarseh, general secretary • YMCA Rehabilitation Program (Beit Sahour): Mr. Nader Abu Amsheh, director • The Joint Advocacy Initiative: Mr. Nidal Abu Zuluf, director • The Friends School, Ramallah: Joyce Ajlouni, director • The Middle East Council of Churches’ Refugee Vocational Training Programs and Health/Well-Baby Clinics, Gaza: Dr. Issa Tarazi, executive secretary • The Middle East Council of Churches’ Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees: Dr. Bernard Sabella, executive secretary • Palestine Children’s Relief Fund: Mr. Steve Sosebee, president
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Michael Schroeder, PMA
Eileen Schuhmann, PMA
Cynthia Schultz, PMA
Let us pray
We pray, O God, that you will direct us in ways that make for peace with justice for all living in your land of promise. We pray especially for the ministry of Archbishop Chacour and the schools of Mar Elias as they build peace on desktops daily. Amen.