"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Jesus Meets His Mother on the Way to Execution

"Fourth Station of the Cross—Jesus meets his mother on the way to his execution

Let us recall Jesus meeting His mother as He carries His cross. She was unable to stand by quietly and see her innocent son accused, condemned and on His way to execution. Not only did she reach out to her son beneath His cross, she must have spoken out to the soldiers and tried to tell them of His innocence. Let us continue with the meditation and think of Jesus in contemporary Palestine.

Here in Hebron we see mothers of six Palestinian youths accused of breaking and entering a settlement enclave in the Old City. Their mothers know their innocence and we witness these women trying to stop the police from taking their sons to the Israeli police station, where anything can happen to them. They rush to the Israeli soldiers to tell them their sons were at home all day. They reach out and actually hold back the military armored personnel carrier in which their sons have been placed. In the face of hostile settlers with guns pointed at them, their courage inspired those who could do so to join with them and ask for mercy." - Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Mothers, even the Mother of God, can never be detached. They do not stand aside in the spiritual world waiting while their sons and daughters lay suffering on earth.

"Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) escalated their aggression against the population of the Gaza Strip. Following its withdrawal from north Gaza on 4 March 2008, the IOF continued air strikes yesterday. IOF penetrated the Wadi al-Salqa village in the central Gaza Strip, assassinated one man, and killed an infant less than one month old. The number of the people killed by the IOF since 28 February 2008 has reached 120, including 72 civilians. Among the civilians were six women and thirty children.

According to affidavits given to Al Mezan by witnesses, the family and the guests left the house as they were instructed by the IOF. The house's outside lights were on and the IOF kept its light on them the entire time. However, the soldiers continued shooting and, consequently, the mother Nadia Abu Aser was hit by a live bullet to her left arm. Her infant daughter, Amira, was injured by a live bullet to her head. Also, the shooting injured four other residents of the house.

There is reason to believe that Yousef al-Smiri was murdered after being stopped. After he fled his house, his body was found at approximately 10:00am the next day (5 March). Believing that he escaped from the IOF, the neighbors found al-Simiri's lifeless body lying in an open area about 150 meters from his house. When the body was examined at the hospital, a live bullet was found in his chest, and his head was crushed." - "Gaza man assassinated and run over, baby shot in the head", Mar. 6, 2007

It sometimes seems that only their own mothers are capable of caring for the Palestinians. Certainly the corporate media will treat the killing of the Jewish seminary students as the "real" crime, while the life of Amira Khaled Abu 'Aser will be buried with deadly silence. The lives of those without significance in the eyes of the world are where Christian eyes see the face of Christ.

In the time of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, humanity was denied to the Jews and he challenged Christians, "Only he who cries out for the Jews is permitted to sing Gregorian chants!" Understanding that Christ's light lived in the face of Amira Khaled Abu 'Aser, the baby shot by Israeli forces, we find our joy in recognizing God not in the approved victims, who have their own reward, but in those totally without status, just as a mother cares for children who are clumsy, crude, stubborn, jealous, and unreasonable.

Why do we rarely hear the voice of the voiceless in today's churches? They are usually dedicated to another purpose - to ensure their own preservation. Of course this motive is well-decorated with noble sentiments about preserving the gospel treasure for future generations, but how can that treasure be preserved for the future by betraying it in the present? "Our church, which has been fighting in these years only for its self-preservation, as though that were an end in itself, is incapable of taking the word of reconciliation and redemption to mankind and the world...Our being Christians today will be limited to two things: Prayer and action by the just person on behalf of people." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The preservation of "church" is not an end in itself. The gospel can only be preserved by being lived in solidarity with those this world would rather forgot about because they are inconvenient and cause friction to the plans for domination. Faith cannot be walled off and air conditioned, uplifted by funereal music, and preserved in splendid isolation. "Faith must be lived in response to real life and suffering in the world...It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the suffering of God in the secular life...Jesus calls men not to a new religion, but to life." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

"Only he who cries out for the Palestinians is permitted to sing Gregorian chants!"

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