ASIA/HOLY LAND - Prayer for peace in Nazareth: God's mercy to find an antidote to hatred

Tuesday, 17 October 2023 peace   prayer  

Nazareth (Agenzia Fides) - In the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the silent prayer of the faithful who join in the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in the Middle East, announced for today, October 17, by the Ordinaries of the Holy Land, began yesterday evening, when the nuns organized a vigil in the place where Mary said her "yes" to the angel Gabriel. "Today, our entire community is immersed in silence, fasting and prayer to the Almighty. The deepest prayer is to ask God to grant peace to the hearts of men", explains to Fides Agency Msgr. Rafic Nahra, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, ordained Bishop and resident in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth since 2022. A passionate architect of dialogue, the Vicar lives with deep inner emotion "a tragic era marked by war, hatred, wall against wall". In the Arab-Israeli village of Nazareth, the Basilica houses the Grotto of the Annunciation, visible testimony to the “yes” which allowed the Word to become incarnate. The inscription "Verbum caro factum est" ("The Word became flesh") is engraved on the facade of the church and on the altar of the grotto, located in the lower part of the basilica. It is to the Word of God, Christ Jesus, that the Catholic community turns today in sincere prayer to invoke the gift of peace. Mass was celebrated this morning at 8 a.m. in front of the Grotto of the Annunciation, followed by the solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the day. This allowed the faithful to come to church and take a break in silent Eucharistic adoration. The gift of peace is also invoked through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the recitation of the Rosary at 11 am and the recitation of the Angelus at 12 pm, in the presence of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Salesian Sisters of Nazareth and other communities of consecrated women.
Msgr. Rafic Nahra tells Fides: "It is necessary to break the vicious circle of inhumanity, violence, revenge. We see with extreme suffering that there is anger in the hearts of everyone and it is difficult to even say a word. The only way to break this circle is to perform concrete acts of closeness and mercy to dissolve hatred, which is the root of all evil, all violence and all cruelty. We see that it is not so much a matter of "giving lessons" to tell others what to do: rather we must work to find an antidote to hatred. Only God's mercy can open a path of reconciliation. That is why we pause in prayer and fasting. But, as our Patriarch, Cardinal Pizzaballa, said, we should not expect this to bear fruit in an instant. We need patience, time and perseverance to build reconciliation and peace. Trust has been broken and we also see it in our society, between Arabs and Israelis. As Christians in the Holy Land, we seek with all our hearts a path of love, of charity, which is the only force capable of extinguishing hatred. This is why the patriarch even said he was ready to offer himself in exchange for the hostages. With Christ Jesus in our hearts, we are ready to do anything for peace".
This evening, the Vicar is preparing to celebrate Mass in Arabic in the Basilica of the Annunciation, which will be followed by the Rosary of Saint Joseph, who is one of the saints who will be invoked to ask God for the gift of peace. Nazareth, concludes the Vicar, "recalls the precise moment in history when the 'yes' of a young girl changed the course of history, gave birth to the new alliance because, thanks to the 'yes' of Mary, God was able to enter history. The ancient Greeks had two ways of defining time, distinguishing between “kronos” and “kairòs”. The first expressed the quantitative and chronological flow of minutes, while the "kairòs" indicated the accomplishment, in time, of something great, timely. Well, precisely in this tragic situation, we say today, with all our being, "yes" to peace, we are experiencing the "kairòs" of peace, a favorable moment to return to reconciliation, in the name of God". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 17/10/2023)