“The commitment to support the Churches of the Middle East dates back to St. Paul. The apostle of the Gentiles always insisted on the commitment for Jerusalem, because thanks to the Christian community of the Holy City the Gospel was spread throughout the world. The same is true today. The Church of Jerusalem continues to be the Mother Church and there still is a debt of the other Churches towards Jerusalem”.
These words by Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, where chosen as the theme of a conference on the Middle East entitled “We were all born there”, organized by Fr. Francesco Ielpo, Commissary of the Holy Land for Northern Italy, in collaboration with the Foundation Terra Santa. The meeting was held on Saturday, February 25th, in Milan.
“Thanks to the Christian community of the Holy City, the gospel has come, in particular through St. Paul, even to us, in Europe” said Fr. Claudio Bottini Director of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum who held a lecture on the journeys of the Apostle of the Gentiles.
But what is the Church of Jerusalem today?
Fr. Toufic from Lebanon answered to this question, giving a testimony on the work done by the Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land in support of Iraqi refugees in Lebanon. The Custody of the Holy Land, in fact, includes Israel, Palestine and Jordan, places of Jesus’ earthly life, but also Syria, Lebanon, Rhodes and Cyprus; this is precisely the area where St. Paul preached and that of the early Christian communities.
“We bring aid to everyone” said Fr. Toufic “and most of the times, to support these refugees simply means bringing the smile to a child, or to explain the basic rules of hygiene … It also means to accompany, to maintain a presence, the Christian presence in a land that really needs it”.
Therefore it is really important to support those Christian communities that have been the source of our faith and that are now disappearing.
“Yes, also because the Mother Church of Jerusalem is still ‘an outgoing Church‘”said Giacomo Pizzi, from Jerusalem, while explaining the social work of the Custody through the support of the Association pro Terra Sancta. “The works that we have in the Holy Land, are primarily an opportunity to meet with others, even with Muslims, with whom we work, and this is an asset that nobody ever talks about.”
In order to support the Mother Church of Jerusalem which is mother because it guards the origins of our faith, everyone can give a small contribution.