CMEP Bulletin: Holy Week in the Holy Land
Thousands of Christians from around the world are gathering in Jerusalem to celebrate Holy Week, joining many Palestinian Christians, the “living stones” of the Holy Land. On Palm Sunday they climbed the Mount of Olives to re-enact Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, a powerful scene punctuated with activism as many Palestinian worshipers took the opportunity to raise awareness of the approximately 50,000 Christian Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
During the procession, members of local Palestinian parishes carried banners bearing the word “Palestine,” the name of their parish, and their distances from Jerusalem. Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza must apply for military permits in order to enter Jerusalem.
It is hard to tell how many Palestinian Christians will be able to come to Jerusalem during Holy Week. PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said some 60 percent of Christian applicants in Bethlehem and the Palestinian West Bank town of Ramallah had their requests rejected. Military spokesman Guy Inbar contradicted her estimate, saying they had issued nearly 20,000 permits so far, and only rejected the applications of 190 Palestinians.
On Holy Thursday, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre and asked worshipers to, “pray for our Church, for our Holy Land and for the entire Middle East, that the Lord may wash us of all the dust of divisions, infidelity, injustice and the thirst for power.” He talked about the violence in the region and said, “politicians will continually fall short in bringing about democracy and justice while our Holy Land is in the state of conflict that is tearing it apart: peace in the Holy Land is the key to peace in the Middle East.”
Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land encourages Palestinians Christians to remain hopeful inhis Easter message.
He writes, “On the Via Dolorosa, Jesus encountered all the dark forces that we experience in the Middle East today. He sacrificed himself so that we might hope and we can trust his power. We will not allow extremism, oppression, violence, bloodshed, hatred, walls or confiscated lands to diminish our hope, to make us give in to despair. The hope of living with dignity, justice, and reconciliation will triumph over the dark forces we face. This is the power of the cross today. This is the hope of Christians in Jerusalem and the whole Holy Land.”
Bishop Younan concluded with:
Al Masih Qam! Haqan Qam!
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
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