Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Saturday, 28 October 2023
Land of Martyrs and Saints

Dr. Michel E. Abs, secretary general of the Middle East Council of Churches :

Ever since the Master was whipped and carried His Cross, bleeding on the road to Calvary, where he was nailed to the wood He carried, stabbed with a spear, lost His life while forgiving His murderers, and then resurrected, this land has been watered with blood.


Since Saint Stephen who was stoned in the 36th year of the Master’s time by those who cannot bear a human being who differs from them in values and belief, he was the proto-martyr of Christianity. From Saint Takla meeting her Lord at the hands of misguided killers, through the martyrs of Christianity who died in brutal methods beyond imagination, all the way to the martyrs of the massacres of the 20th century, from Armenians, Syriacs and Anatolians, through the martyrs of Mount Lebanon during the Great Famine, in addition to the martyrs of Nakba in Palestine, all the way to the massacres of Armenians in Artsakh today, this land continues to be watered with blood.


From our land the embodied Master spread his faith and taught his values to people, giving them an example in proper human social behavior.


From our land caravans set out to cross the sea, and land caravans made their rough way, spreading the good news of salvation and the new man in the world.


At our land the wild boar killed Adon, as legend goes, and watered the land of Byblos in Lebanon with his blood. The anemones bloomed three days later, heralding resurrection and yearning for eternal life.


In our land started the legend of the phoenix, who is reduced to ashes and then resurrected from its ashes. As if with all these legends, products of an anxious collective mind, we prophesied the coming of the Master of Life for whom no kingdom perishes and no word passes away.


The believing people resisted conquerors and invaders and stood firm against them. Even if this forced them to stay for hundreds of years in lonely places that their will turned into civilization such as Hakkari region at the top of Taurus Mountains or Wadi Qannoubin in northern Lebanon.


From us came hermits, saints and teachers who planted our Antioch Levant and our cherished Nile Valley with love and peace and taught them to the world. To the land of Nile, Holy Family made a pilgrimage and hid to escape from a children bloodthirsty tyrant perched on breasts of helpless people.


This Holy Land still produces saints today who are beacons for people and the world in their journey and path. Our land is stained with blood; our history bears color of blood; our people do not spare when it is time to give it to preserve dignity, adherence to belief and preservation of homeland.


How many dragons have come to roam our shores, and how many Green Saint George have defeated them? This is our destiny, to fight brutality with love, with words, with example and good advice.


A few days ago, the Orthodox Church of Antioch consecrated the saints Father Nicolas Khasha and his son, Father Habib Khasha, the Damascenes, who were condemned by violence. The father was a priest who defended his people in Mersin, and the son was a priest who fell victim to the evil of ignorant outlaws. Both were victims of their faith and belief at the hands of cruel people who had nothing to do with humanity. They deserved the crown of martyrdom.


On the other hand, the Syriac Maronite Church is preparing to proclaim the canonization of Patriarch Estephan Douaihy, a unique ecclesiastical scholar. The proclamation of Patriarch Douaihy’s canonization comes within a continuous path of saints who take their place in the ethos of Eastern Christianity.


The caravan of martyrs and saints will not end; its record is open from eternity and forever.


In this context, for about two weeks now, in the Land of God, Palestine, particularly Gaza, a vulnerable group has been subjected to a fierce war that amounts to genocide. More than 2,000 children have been killed to date in the war raging in the Holy Land. This war has not spared civilians, especially children, from adult violence.


These children are also martyrs. They are martyrs of racism, hatred, disdain for human beings, political targets, and the interests of oil and arms corporation. They are the martyrs of a time when man no longer has any value compared to money and power.


How many martyrs and saints does this era take to be reformed? Or is it too late?