This Christmas Palestinians Aspire To A Life Of Full Dignity And Full Freedom – OpEd


By Bishop Munib Younan

Amid the ongoing war and violence in Gaza, Christ reveals to us the sanctity of every life, regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, political, or denominational affiliation.

War turns precious human lives into mere numbers. Jesus, even from the manger, emphatically assures us that every human has the image of God imprinted upon them. Every human therefore has equal worth and deserves equal dignity.

God loves each one of us equally, as it is written, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son,” (John 3:16), and “I have come that you may have life, and life abundant,” (John 10:10).

It is God’s will that all may live with full dignity and full freedom. No one has the right to take away another’s God-given humanity, whether they are friend or foe, whether they share the same or different political or religious beliefs, whether they speak the same language or live on opposite sides of a border.

This is a reminder that even in the lowest places on Earth, even the most troubled places, even amid rubble, there must be sanctity of life.

The war in Gaza has opened Pandora’s box. Some mistakenly consider the war a religious conflict. I want to assure you that this is not a religious war. Religious people have known for a long time how to live together in harmony in our Holy Land.

Others have interpreted the Bible to see this war as eschatological and even apocalyptic. Those that hold this view, even if they call themselves Christians, have failed to see the light from the manger in Bethlehem.

The birth of Jesus has revealed again and again that God is love, and this God would never use human life or human suffering for evil. Jesus himself is the fulfillment of prophecy, not some imaginary apocalyptic nightmare.

Still others are calling the war in Gaza a “just war.” Frankly, I don’t believe there is a war that is just. We in the Holy Land do not need a just war, we need a just peace. We need no more weapons, oppression, hostilities, attacks, statements, or denial of human rights. Justice and only justice is our desire and our demand, so that the light of life we know through Christ will be for all people.

These words challenge Christians and churches all around the world. How can we carry the light of love and justice in our world, especially here in this place, at this time?

And so, from the Holy Land, we call on Christians everywhere to actively work for the immediate cessation of war. On Dec. 15, Pope Francis said: “May the killing of children touch the hearts of those who can stop the war.”

We ask for more humanitarian aid and we want the world leaders to know that peace with justice is still possible in the Holy Land. In fact, if the war could cease now, this could be a kairos moment when serious peace talks can finally happen. This is a time to realize the end game for the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

From Jerusalem we light a candle for the victims, the bereaved, the injured, the traumatized, the prisoners of war, the displaced, those whose homes have been destroyed, for the Palestinian Christian community, and especially for the children.

* Bishop Munib Younan is a former bishop of Palestine and Jordan and former president of the Lutheran World Federation.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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