Russia TLIG Magazine

T R U E L I F E I N G O D 52 Jesus said: “Blessed are the peace-makers for they shall be called the children of God”. St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians chal- lenges the believers to be the reconcilers: “All this from God who through Christ reconciled us to Himself, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” I ntroduction Let me first greet you with salaam, and convey the same from our people in the Land many refer to as the Holy Land, of which I speak of as the Land of the Holy One. This is so due to the fact that holy may mean a land with many holes, which I am afraid is true now, as a result of the on-going conflict in the Middle East. M eeting P rime M inister T ony B lair This brings me straight to share with you a meeting with the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Tony Blair, on February 18, 2003, days before the war on Iraq. I was one of four bishops, two from Eng- land, one from the United States, and myself, trying to divert his attention from war to peaceful means. His response was: “We go to war against Iraq in order to pave the way for peace in the Middle East.”-!!!??? To which I responded: “Mr. P.M.: The shortest route to Baghdad goes through Jerusalem. Once peace comes to Jerusalem, peace will come to the whole world.” We all know what happened, the peace he brought to the Middle East and how not only Iraq but a whole Middle East was torn into pieces. P eace is the way My friends; wars never bring genuine peace. Genuine peace is not the absence of war, neither the cessation of hostilities, and certainly not the quiet which comes out of subjugation and oppression. Peace is the way. There is no place under the sun where the term peace/ Salaam/Shalom is used as we do in Israel, Palestine, the Arab countries, the so called Holy Land. We greet one another with Salaam or Shalom, or Asalamu Alai- kum. Church leaders and Rabbis and Imams preach long sermons on it. Children are named Salaam and Shalom. So also high rises in Tel-Aviv, and different centers and towns. And yet, not much of Salaam or Shalom. The term has been so used, so misused, and so abused that it became not only devalued, but causes some to doubt one’s sincerity when using it. I am reminded of Psalm 120 where God is quoted saying: “I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.” P eace where there is conflict The search for peace and reconciliation does not mean the avoidance of conflict. We may contribute to peace, and/or engage in acts of reconciliation only where there is conflict. There is no lack of conflicts around us: not only among na- tions, but also among individuals, within families and among neighbors. No one with enough common sense leaves conflicting parties to busy himself in reconciling parties in love. Those in love do not need you or me. And note peace-making cannot be done with remote controls. One needs to be there. Mind you it is never a picnic. W hat is our mission ? W hose task is it ? What is really this ministry we have been given as believers in God? It is the work of breaking down walls of mistrust and hostility wherever they exist, and particularly as they are constructed around differences of culture, race, nationality, religion and economic sta- tus. To reconcile is to bring into right relationship, to re-order our relationships and restore unity with God and one with another. This is not the task of politicians. This is your task and mine. We are called The Right Reverend Bishop Riah Abo El -Assal, Thirteenth Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East How to bridge our divisions and bring peace to the world