Friday, April 27, 2007

If there is a problem in the world ...

Father or Abuna Elias Chacour is the resident priest in the village of Ibillin, in the mountains outside of Nazareth in Galilea. He is a Melikite Catholic Priest, and is a Palestinian.

I first met him when I was on a study tour to Israel with the University of Toronto in 1988, an event he no doubt remembers fondly ... We arrived in Ibillin and spent the morning in the church and village where we heard from Fr. Chacour himself about the challenges of being an Arab citizen in Israel, and the work he and the Peace institute he founded were engaging.

The Mass he presided at was a beautiful mixture of Arabic and English (just enough English peppered in to keep the non-Arabic speakers from getting lost). The village was beautiful. The children, rather than asking for "baqsheesh" asked for paper and pencils, which we gladly gave, though our Profs who were guiding the tours said that giving away our writing utensils wasn't an excuse for not getting the papers and notes we needed done.

What struck me in Ibillin that day was the peace and serenity that Father Chacour possesses and so ready shares ... he is a man of peace ... he is a prophetic figure in the fullest sense of what a prophet is ... he is one of the Saints of our World ...

From one of his books I often borrow a story he tells about what happens in the world when there is a problem ... a story we would do well to hear and live:

Father Chacour's mentor sat before the class of eager young priests and said – "If there is a problem somewhere this is what happens. Three people will try to do something concrete to settle the issue. Ten people will give a lecture analyzing what the three are doing. One hundred people will commend or condemn the ten for their lecture. One thousand people will argue about he problem. AND one person – only ONE – will involve himself so deeply in the true solution that he is simply too busy to listen to any of it …"

"Now," the kindly mentor looked each of the young priests in the eyes as he asked the question: "which person are YOU??"

I reflect on this story often ... and I repeated ask myself the question: which person am I??

1 comment:

wendy mc-g said...

i remember the day we all met Father Elias Chacour-I think there was a wedding going on during the mass?? he was so gentle and kind-so compassionate and wise..that brief experience and reading his books transformed me in my activism and my faith.
he is a mystic and a deeply loving child of God! somehow he has risen above all the horror & hatred he has experienced from the state of Israel and has diligently been a crusader for peace. we all have so much to learn from him-how to forgive and how to love our enemies.