JERUSALEM - From Saturday, January 20th, till Sunday, January 28th, 2024, the Churches of Jerusalem welcomed faithful and religious people from other traditions for a time of prayer together. This week is always an opportunity to seek out what brings Christians together, while appreciating their diversity, and their historical and cultural specificities, which are deeply rooted in the Holy Land, where, unlike any other place in the world, almost all the Churches are present.
"You shall love the Lord, your God, ..., and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27) was the theme for 2024, prepared by members of the Catholic Archdiocese of Ouagadougou, the Protestant Churches and the Chemin Neuf Community of Burkina Faso, a Sahelian country also in the grip of a very serious security crisis, where Christians, representing less than 30% of the population, are regularly the target of attacks and kidnappings.
In Jerusalem, in union with all the Churches of the world, a prayer for Peace was above all raised, so that each person may see his neighbor as a brother to love and find a loving brother in his neighbor. There was also unanimous thanksgiving and tribute for the testimonies of faith, hope, and charity that Christians continue to give in the face of adversity, particularly in Gaza.
As one of the homilies heard during the week recalled, "All the many holy martyrs of Jerusalem, the first Church in the world, surround us. They pray with us and for us" (St James Armenian Cathedral).
Every day, ceremonies followed one another in the main Christian places of worship across the Old City, focusing on the Gospel of the Good Samaritan and the recitation of the Lord's Prayer, each in their language.
The faces, that had become familiar by the end of the week, were filled with contemplation and transcended by the beauty of the liturgies, as everyone seemed to seek comfort and support in these fraternal gatherings.
The hosting Churches more than lived up to this expectation, enabling everyone to enter into prayer and to "marvel at the miracle represented by the Lord's call, which brings together in his love people from all walks of life, all nationalities, with their differences and even their disagreements", as Abbot Nikodemus Schnabel remarked in his homily at the Cenacle on January 25, 2024.
"It's truly a unique opportunity to have this experience in Jerusalem, where almost every tradition is represented. It's a wonderful discovery, which this week allows us to experience with deep respect for each other." (Priest, student at the EBAF).
"In our daily lives, it's a real challenge to attend all the services, but for nothing in the world, we wouldn't miss these moments with our brothers and sisters" (Comboni Sister, Jerusalem).
"I'm very grateful to the Churches for introducing us to the beauty of their places of prayer and their liturgy, which interests me a lot. All the translation and transcription efforts have enabled me to understand and take an active part in the ceremonies, thank you very much" (Seminarian at the White Fathers, St Anne).
"It's really important to see the representatives of the Churches showing each other friendship and respect. I really liked the blessings that each of them was invited to give at the end of certain ceremonies, which made you feel welcomed and recognized" (Student).
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