“Exercising mercy and demanding justice belong together”
The Holy Doors in Bethlehem and Nazareth will soon be opened – Auxiliary Bishop Marcuzzo from Nazareth emphasizes the role forgiveness in the Holy Land as also having political dimensions
“The Holy Year of Mercy is very important for the Holy Land. It has spiritual, but also social and political dimensions,” Auxiliary Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo of the Latin Patriarchate and patriarchal vicar for Israel, emphasized. In an interview with the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the bishop, who resides in Nazareth (Israel), explained that the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis should transform both the individual Christian as well as the Christian community.
According to Auxiliary Bishop Marcuzzo, both belong together. “This year is an opportunity to grow in the faith and active love. Mercy is exercising love in difficult situations. The circumstances of the Holy Land, however, are such that the individual faithful Christian is called upon to make a heroic testimony of love.” According to Bishop Marcuzzo, the most important outcome of the Holy Year for the individual would be the rediscovery of the sacrament of penance. “To begin with, I am hoping for a more mature, more conscious and more adult return to the sacrament of confession. This is above all a matter of the individual, but it does also have a social dimension. Because people who are willing to change their ways are also willing to do things for others. We hope that this will lead to more solidarity and selflessness. A Christian has to prove himself to be stronger than the brother of the brother. This is true for the relationships of Christians among each other, but also for associations with members of other religions, whether they are Muslims, Jews or Druze. You have to accept the other in his otherness.”
The church does not ask of us to be
The auxiliary bishop highlighted a decisive aspect of mercy is the willingness to bestow forgiveness. In light of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, of course, the discourse on forgiveness is a special challenge for the primarily Palestinian Christians of the Holy Land. “At the moment, the people are asking me how they can live mercy and forgiveness following such great injustices as those caused by the wars and the violence they experience. There is no easy answer. But one thing is clear, we cannot on the one hand exercise mercy and stop demanding justice. We have to bring them into sync with each other. The church does not ask of us to be merciful but stop calling for justice.” Bishop Marcuzzo mentioned examples from other contexts. “Of course, for us Christians, Jesus Christ is the quintessential example of how this is done. But he was also followed by people who tried to bring mercy and justice into sync. I believe that within his context Gandhi, for example, was the perfect example of this way of living. We can also let this inspire us as Christians in the Holy Land.”
The Holy Door will be opened in Bethlehem on the 24th, in Nazareth on the 27th of December.
By Oliver Maksan, ACN International,
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada