This week, I am giving more than my usual tithe.
On Good Friday, Catholics who attend church services will have the opportunity to participate in a special collection. You may have heard it simply referred to as the “Good Friday collection.” The money you contribute will benefit our Mother Church, those living in the place where the Church was founded – the Holy Land.
In the year 1900, Christians accounted for 20% of that region’s population. Last year, largely due to difficulties stemming from the Israeli occupation, they were 2%.
This video illustrates some of the challenges that Palestinian Christians face. In it, Christian pastor Alex Awad stands in front of the entrance to the Church of the Nativity and sums up the situation:
We are losing our voice. We are losing our testimony. We are losing our impact and our influence on society. And of course, we are losing our rights, because when you are a very, very small community among big numbers of people, it is natural to lose our voice in the community.
If current trends continue, analysts believe that in 20 years, there will be NO CHRISTIANS LEFT in the Holy Land! Do you understand the severity of this situation?
How can we ignore the plight of Christians who live where Jesus was born, lived, died, and rose? How can we turn our radio dials as reporters describe the emptying of the Gospel lands? How can we call ourselves the Body of Christ and let the members living within its heart suffer?
Holy Land Christians Need You
While in Jerusalem, my fellow pilgrims and I were privileged to have a private audience with Bishop William Shomali, auxiliary bishop of the Holy Land’s Latin rite diocese. Among some of his words to us were…
- “Communion is the best witness to Jesus; when we are united together.”
- “We will have no fear for the future if everyone thinks of his brothers and sisters.”
His Excellency taught me that the Christians of the Holy Land love us: their brothers and sisters of the universal Church. They want and need our prayers. They want and need our heartfelt support. They want and need to stay where they are – to carry on the 2,000-year witness they bear.
Media Can Help
The Good Friday collection will – besides providing for the material needs of the Holy Land’s Christians – help fund the Franciscans’ media production. Their websites, videos, and social media profiles provide new ways for people around the world to connect with the Holy Land and its natives. What invaluable resources! (We make a big deal about the Vatican’s website, but why don’t we hear a word about the web presence of the ‘sites’ made holy by Our Lord Jesus?)
Please, don’t forget the Good Friday collection. Set something aside for this. Then, use some of your time this Friday to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.