Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, together with Giorgio Demetrio Gallaro, Archbishop Secretary, have addressed a letter appealing for collaboration in the Holy Friday Collection to help the Holy Land.
As pilgrims in Jerusalem
"In every Holy Week" begins that missive Cardinal Sandri, "we ideally present ourselves as pilgrims in Jerusalem and contemplate the mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ dead and risen. St. Paul the Apostle, who had a living and personal experience of this mystery, in the Letter to the Galatians He goes so far as to say: "I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2,20). All that the Apostle has lived is also the foundation of a new model of fraternity, which derives from the work of reconciliation and pacification accomplished by the Crucified One among all peoples, as St. Paul writes in the Letter to the Ephesians".
The deserted streets around the Holy Sepulchre and Old Jerusalem have echoed St. Peter's Square, deserted and drenched by rain, crossed by the Holy Father on March 27, 2020.Card. Leonardo Sandri
Sandri emphasizes that during the year 2020 Pope Francis wanted to remind us of the consequences of this gift of reconciliation, and he did so through the encyclical Fratelli tutti. With this text, the Pope, starting from the prophetic experience proposed by St. Francis of Assisi, wants to help us to read in the light of the principle of fraternity all our relationships and all the areas of our life: religious, economic, ecological, political, communicative.
The foundation at Calvary
"The foundation of our being all brothers and sisters," he says, "is properly found on Calvary, the place where, through the ultimate gift of love, the Lord interrupted the spiral of enmity, broke the vicious circle of hatred and opened for every man and every woman the path of reconciliation with the Father, among all people and with the very reality of creation."
Evoking the situation that led to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, Sandri points out that "the deserted streets around the Holy Sepulchre and the Old Jerusalem echoed St. Peter's Square, deserted and drenched by rain, crossed by the Holy Father on March 27, 2020, walking towards the Crucifix, before whom the whole world was on its knees, begging for the end of the pandemic and making everyone feel united in the same mystery of sorrow".
One year trial period
It has therefore been a year of trial, and so it has been for the Holy City of Jerusalem, for the Holy Land and for the small Christian community living in the Middle East, which wants to be light, salt and leaven of the Gospel. In 2020, the Christians of those lands suffered an isolation that made them feel even more distant, far from vital contact with their brothers and sisters from the various countries of the world.
They have suffered the loss of work, due to the absence of pilgrims, and the consequent difficulty to live with dignity and to provide for their own families and children. In many countries the persistence of wars and sanctions has aggravated the very effects of the pandemic. In addition, part of the financial aid that the Holy Land Appeal guaranteed every year has also been lacking, due to the difficulties in many countries to carry out the Appeal in 2020.
The Good Samaritan
The letter goes on to join in the intentions of Pope Francis, who "offered to all Christians the figure of the Good Samaritan as a model of active charity, of a love that shows initiative and solidarity. He also encouraged us to reflect on the various attitudes of the characters in this parable, in order to overcome the indifference of those who see their brother or sister and pass by: "With whom do you identify? This question is crude, direct and decisive: which of them do you resemble? We need to recognize the temptation that surrounds us to ignore others, especially the weakest. Let's say it, we have grown in many aspects, although we are illiterate in accompanying, caring for and sustaining the most fragile and weakest in our developed societies. We are accustomed to look the other way, to look the other way, to ignore situations until they hit us directly" (Fratelli tutti, 64)".
From the parable of the Good Samaritan, with whom do you identify? This question is crude, direct and decisive.Card. Leonardo Sandri
"May the Collection for the Holy Land 2021 be for everyone a propitious occasion not to look away, not to pass by, not to be disinterested in the situations of need and difficulty of our brothers and sisters who live in the Holy Places. If this small gesture of solidarity and sharing (St. Paul and St. Francis of Assisi would call it "restitution") were lacking, it would be even more difficult for so many Christians in those lands to resist the temptation to leave their own country; it would be difficult to support the parishes in their pastoral mission and to continue the educational work through the Christian schools and the social commitment in favor of the poor and the afflicted.
Caring for the Holy Places
It is clear that the difficulties of the past year have not been lacking: "the sufferings of the many displaced persons and refugees who have been forced to leave their homes because of the war, need an outstretched and friendly hand to pour into their wounds the balm of consolation. Finally, we must not give up the task of caring for the Holy Places, which are a concrete witness to the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God and the offering of his life, carried out for our love and for our salvation".
In such a difficult scenario, marked by the absence of pilgrims, "I feel the duty to make my own", continues the Cardinal, "once again, the words that the Apostle of the Gentiles addressed to the Corinthians, two thousand years ago, inviting them to a solidarity that is not based on philanthropic but Christological reasons: 'For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that you might become rich through his poverty'" (2 Cor 8,9)".
He who sows bountifully, shall reap bountifully
"And after having recalled the principle of equality, solidarity and the sharing of material and spiritual goods, the Apostle adds eloquent words, today as then, and which need no commentary: "But I say to you, he who sows sparingly will reap sparingly; he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him do, not grudgingly or under compulsion: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to increase in you every kind of grace, so that, always having sufficient in everything, you may abound in every good work.2 Cor 8,9)".