Brothers and sisters
are gathered this morning to pray, to come into the presence of God almighty
and merciful, to pray for our brothers and sisters who died in the tragic
events of this week, in the USA. We are here with our own pains, with the
pains of the American people and American Churches, with whom we are in a
constant and fraternal relation in our quest of justice and peace in this
land. To all of you, Americans here sharing in this prayer, we present our
sincere condolences. With you, and with the people and the Church of America,
we mourn the departed, we entrust them to the mercy of God. In the same time,
we pray for the survivors, for the relatives and friends, and for the leaders
of America, may God give them faith, hope and strength to go on building their
land, with their faith in God and love for their brothers and sisters in
America and in the world.
the first reading of today, from the book of Exodus, we read the following
versus: “ I shall make a great nation out of you” (Ex 32:10). For that,
Moses had prayed and asked the intercession of the Fathers: “Remember
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. The greatness of the nation, for the Jewish
people as for all peoples of the earth, will depend from the presence of those
forefathers and their followers, the prophets and the saints, who had listened
to the word of God, who had made it known to the people, and who, through the
spirit of God Almighty and merciful, had prepared the peoples of the earth to
become great nations. This is to say that the greatness of every nation will
always rely upon the word of God, and from the capacity of the nation, leaders
and people, to listen to it and to be faithful to it. The nearer to God, to
his greatness, the nearer to the true greatness in this world. Jesus had also
said: “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect”. All progress and
all greatness in this world can only be a sharing in the greatness and the
perfection of God.
question comes naturally to the mind: There are so many interpreters of the
Word of God and they are often contradictory. Some find in the Word of God
love and mercy, and some find
death and hatred. Jesus had said: “Be perfect as Your Father in heaven is
perfect”. So our guide is God himself. Those interpreters who are conform in
their interpretation with the love and mercy of God, those we can trust and
follow. Those who affirm attributes contrary to the very essence of God, as
hatred and death and exclusion of other brothers and sisters, cannot be from
God; they cannot work neither for God nor for the children of God; they cannot
build the kingdom of God neither in this world nor in the world to come. Those
who love, those for whom God is the source of their own love for others, these
are the interpreters of the word of God.
brings back the role of religion in our present world. It happened in history
that religion has served to be a cause of wars. Today too, religion is
manipulated and God is prayed to overcome the enemy. In our country here,
religion on both sides is having a big role in the conflict and in the cycle
of violence. Religion cannot be a cause of wars. God is not the God of hatred
and death. God is the God of all his children, whatever be their faith or
nationality, and it is the role of all leaders to come out of their conformism
to the political system of which they are a part, even to overcome a
dominating vision in the crowds, to become the prophets for the building of
the future. It is a common responsibility of all religious leaders to free
themselves, not to remain obedient parts of the political system, in order to
be the voice of God, not of men, the God of mercy, righteousness and love for
leaders, on their side, should make God more present in their own life and
plans. They should know that progress of humankind cannot be done without God,
without an education which allows the new generations to know God, as God of
mercy, of righteousness and love. The religious vacuum in the present society
should be filled with a true religious education, starting from the leaders to
all the strata of the people in order to know God, and to know that he is the
father of all. God cannot be a source of discrimination among his children.
The present developed society should not leave God out of its plans: seeing
God the human progress will follow more appropriate better ways, and God will
not remain a weapon in the hands of the poor to take revenge of the strong.
will be always and everywhere oppositions and differences among religions, and
religious views or positions. The same among peoples and nations and persons.
But no one, should remain enemy: neither seeing himself as enemy, nor seeing
the other as enemy, to kill and to hate. Religion should educate all to see in
the other a brother and sister to build together this world of God, as true
children of God.
that we pray, this morning, brothers and sisters, may God help us to find in
our tragedies seeds of a new life, as was the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Cross led to the Resurrection because Jesus gave his life out of love for
all, and because he forgave to those who were the cause of his death.
Therefore, through love and forgiveness, death became the seeds of a new life.
Patriarch of Jerusalem
16 September 2001