The Lamp of Peace

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The Lamp of Peace

By Fr. Dr. Rif’at Bader-Morocco

The year 1992 marked my first article that was published in the press, by Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, at a time when I was a student at the Latin Seminary of Beit Jala which is located near Bethlehem. I recall well a story coinciding with the olive harvest season in late October, titled “The Candle,” in which the main character of the story “Farid” decided not to allow the wind to put out the flame of his candle.

Twenty-seven years later, the story comes back to my mind after the announcement that His Majesty King Abdullah II was awarded a prize made of pure glass, called “Lamp (or candle) of Peace” in Assisi, the city of St. Francis, known as Assisi, in reference to his birthplace and the place of his father's trade. The prize was awarded a few days after the address made by the King in Zarqa during which he said, “Yes, we are being pressured.” Let us say there are those who want to put out the flame of Jordan’s candle. No, the Hashemite will does not yield and the King’s cohesion with his people provides the potential to confront any stormy winds.

It is the tradition that whoever was awarded the prize the year before should come to present it to the one awarded for the following year. This is known as the human chain for peace. Since the launch of the prize in 1981, a total of 17 people have been awarded this prize in this pioneering human chain which is influential in human history. Some of them have passed away after being canonized and after having made positive changes in a world characterized by brutality and served as lit candles echoing the Letter of Paul to the Philippians that says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life,” or as Lord Jesus Christ referred to John the Baptist saying, “John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you were willing for a season to bask in his light.”

His Majesty the King was flying to Assisi, Italy, while Pope Francis was preparing to go to the Kingdom of Morocco, where the day before His Majesty the King stressed the Arabism of Jerusalem and the custodianship of the holy sanctuaries, while the Pope will focus on Islamic-Christian dialogue and giving aid to refugees, in addition to instilling the spirit of courage and the persistence of the small Catholic Church in the fraternal Maghreb which comprises 30,000 residents living among 37 million citizens.

Philadelphia, the capital of the brotherly love of Amman, was the capital from which the Message of Amman emerged. At the time, the extended Jordanian family gathered at the Royal Cultural Center and listened to verses from the Noble Koran and the Holy Bible about the annunciation in an event organized by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media, during which the annunciation prize was presented this year to leading institutions in our beloved country that promote the culture of accepting others and of the Islamic-Christian encounter, namely the Ecumenical Community Center, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church and administered by Pastor Samer Azar, and the Religious Solidarity Initiative which is directed by Dr. Bayan Shboul.

The choir of the Church of the Annunciation in Jabal Luweibdeh sang a song by Wadi’ Al Safi “Jibril Came with the Annunciation.” What a beautiful candle – it will definitely illuminate our long and beautiful path... with my greetings.

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