JUSTICE AND PEACE
EMBRACE EACH OTHER
and peace have embraced each other ...
the peacemakers ...
basic document “Theology and the Local Church in the Holy Land”,
adopted by the First Conference organized by Al-Liqa’ Center on
Theology and the Local Church” (July 2-4, 1988), affirms that
the local church “does not live outside the scope of time and
space because she is an incarnate church after the pattern of
the Incarnate Christ”.
basis of the general concept of theology, the document details
the characteristics which give our church of Jerusalem her
special features. One of these characteristics is that she lives
“within a people” (the Palestinian people) who have special
characteristics and diverse historic experiences, old and new,
with all the sufferings and hopes which they encompass.
The great hope which is aspired by
the people’s conscience and which has been intertwined with the
sufferings, pains of homelessness and bloodshed lies in their
strong wish for a just peace which can achieve their
independence and noble aspirations.
This peace is considered a divine gift and a natural right for
them and for all the peoples of the world. In light of this
hope, they suffer a lot and pay a high price, with all the
peoples of the area. Time has come for the world to commit
itself and stand firmly and courageously to support our people
in their struggle of putting an end to their suffering and
achieving their rights. Consequently, peace based on justice
will be maintained to the glory of God and to the welfare of the
peoples of the area and humanity at large.
compliance with their struggle for achieving their aspirations
and independence, our Palestinian people have extended the hand
of peace by putting forward, through their legitimate
institutions, an initiative based on rational analysis of the
present attitudes. These democratic deliberations have given it
flexibility and dynamism to absorb and interact with the various
changes and given facts.
document is not a political one but mere meditations and
theological visions born amidst the daily sufferings of the
Intifada which has been enriched with the light and guidance of
our faith. We are putting it forward for reflections and
dialogue so that it could become a step, no matter how modest,
towards peace and justice in our beloved country.
orientation towards peace
the post-World War II period, the world has lived in the shadow
of the Cold War which had a negative reflection on the fates of
peoples and nations, especially the smaller and the weaker ones.
Lately, signs of international relaxation began to appear on the
horizon, carrying the news of a better atmosphere for settling
the international and regional disputes. Such an orientation
carries within itself the danger of hasty solutions which,
sometimes might not take into account the requirements of
justice and peace. Therefore, the aforementioned atmosphere
remains an incentive for building a better world for the human
Palestinian people have responded positively to this
international orientation. From amidst the Intifada, they have
extended the olive branch through initiatives carrying a
political content characterized by historic courage.
They called everybody to promote constructive dialogue in such
a way which opens the door for a new historical period. Thus,
the people of the region would proceed from realizing peace and
justice to the building of a real civilization which can be
revived by sublime ideals derived from the human, spiritual and
genuine heritage of the East, which has contributed greatly to
Church of the Holy Land which rejects injustice in all its
forms, supports the present Palestinian initiative and finds in
it a divine touch and a heavenly call to work together with all
other brethren for justice and peace.
We do believe that peace and justice are among the values of the
heavenly kingdom which were incarnated through Christ who lived
them, died for them and with His resurrection strengthened the
hope of their realization. (Luke: 2:14)
above all, is the peace of God which has come upon the people
through Jesus Christ: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I
give to you.” (John 14:27). This peace, as we know,
is among the fruit of the spirit in the life of the believer.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace ...”
The peace which we accept from God is the same peace that we
commit ourselves to serve and have our modest share with all our
brethren in its realization for the sake of man created in the
image of God, after His likeness; in this beloved part of the
world. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called
sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
genuine wish for peace requires real, sincere and dynamic
commitment which looks ahead to the future instead of remaining
a prisoner of a past that prevents the facing of reality and
considering others as real equals with whom we can go ahead
towards peace and security. The future challenges and urges all
of us to adopt constructive and new ideas imposed by the actual
reality which no one can ignore: “Behold, I make all things
new” (Revelation 21:5).
an appeal to justice and peace
hope for justice and peace is being embodied in the city of
Jerusalem which is considered by the heavenly religions as the
place chosen by God for holding a dialogue with man so as to
raise him to the level of dialogue with his fellow man. For
Christians, this dialogue has reached its peak in the character
of Christ the Lord: “The Word which became flesh and dwelt
among us” (John 1:14).
And on the hill of Golgotha, Jesus died and with His
resurrection from the dead He built a strong bridge between God
and man and between man and his fellow man: “For He is our
peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the
dividing wall of hostility..” (Ephesians 2:14).
and peace derive their fundamental motives and elements from the
material and spiritual reality of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the
city of God where a great number of God’s sons find shelter
under her wings. Accordingly, peace cannot be achieved for a
certain group or people to enjoy the peace of Jerusalem when
others are deprived of this grace.
This sense of exclusiveness and individualism which deprives a
certain group of God’s creation from the grace of Jerusalem is
but an encroachment on the nature of Jerusalem, her call,
mission and historical, religious and political reality.
requires a wide political vision which could translate this
reality into a political fact that absorbs the given facts of
Jerusalem and her centrality for her sons and the world at
On this basis, Jerusalem would become a place for encounter
rather than confrontation and estrangement, appealing to all to
accept each other with all their human, political, social,
religious and cultural backgrounds. Only then can we reiterate
with the Hadith, (The narrative relating deeds and
utterances of Prophet Mohammed): “He who wishes to look at one
of the favorite spots of Paradise, will have to look at
Accordingly, Jerusalem is the city of the future which keeps for
us the best things she has, provided that all should get out of
the narrow limits of their own selves so as to give Jerusalem
the opportunity to play the role of both her earthly and
hour of Jerusalem which we are waiting for and aspiring to, is
the hour of God, the hour of man, and the hour of all of us. On
that basis, Christians throughout generations have seen in it a
picture of that heavenly city to which we walk in great hope and
in which God and all people will be together -- everyone is for
message of Jerusalem is addressed to the inhabitants of the Holy
Land and to the world at large. It cries out to us and
challenges us: Peace cannot be achieved without justice; nor
justice without rights, that is to say, each one should have
equal status. Only in this way, can the peoples of the area
overcome historical, religious and social complexities.
The rejection of this message would only lead to suppression,
injustice, and killing which we don’t accept for our area or for
any people of the world. We hope that the peace of Christ, and
not the peace of the world, will be realized in Jerusalem (John
14:27). This is to fulfill what prophet Isaiah has spoken:
“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie
down with the kid and the calf and the lion shall grow up
together, and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).
peace of Jerusalem to the peace of the world
The orientation of all
humanity towards peace and justice and the quest for them lies
in Jerusalem because the Holy City, after the pattern of the
Church, is a sign set up among nations to remind them of its
main call represented in the constant quest for more harmony in
the world of man.
The fate of Jerusalem goes far beyond the longing of its
inhabitants and lovers because it can be considered a pattern to
the fate of the whole world. The world cannot remain passive and
neutral in any wars or disputes that might take place in it
because it knows that its fate is decided in it and its hopes of
justice and peace move within its holy courtyards.
quest of the inhabitants of Jerusalem for justice and peace is a
quest in the name of all humanity and for its sake. It is
particularly addressed to those who have been conquered,
tyrannized, suppressed and humiliated. Peace lovers in our Holy
Land do not only represent themselves but also the thirst of all
people who are threatened by all kinds of injustice and fear.
Our call for the peace and justice of Jerusalem is but a loud
cry for the peace and justice of the world. This is based not on
the illusions of military balance and selfish interests but on
the divine and humane values which distinguish human
civilization and of which God had made of Jerusalem a dwelling
place: and residence. “Peace be within your towers. For my
brethren and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be with you”
The way to
peace is the way of repentance
wept over the Holy City at the sight of injustice in Jerusalem
saying: “If only you had known, on this great day, the way
that leads to peace” (Luke 19:41-41). He warned her
because she did not respond with the special appeal that he made
for her saying: “How often would I have gathered your
children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,
and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and
desolate...” (Matthew 23: 37-78).
means that peace cannot be based on political skills and
propagandistic pedantries but on a heart which accepts peace,
loves and aspires to it, obeys its requirements, and wishes to
have it for himself as well as for others.
Accordingly, the challenge with which the City of God faces is
that kind of challenge which calls us to return to the values of
peace and the requirements and appeals of justice which take
their full divine and humane meanings in the Holy City,
“Create in me a clean heart O, God, and put a new and right
spirit within me” (Psalms 50-12).
fear and intimidation, the attempt to size up the others in
accordance with our narrow and selfish interests, the
premeditated views which hinder the hearing of the hearts of
individuals and peoples, or the ignoring and rejection of their
aspirations and fundamental rights in the name of absolute and
unilateral attitudes of which God is free despite the fact that
they are said in His name ... all these are but obstacles that
stand in the way of peace.
No peace can be achieved without repentance and no repentance
without listening in ourselves to the voice of God which
purifies and changes us. The Holy City is the city of return to
the committed dialogue based on truthfulness and mutual respect
and acceptance of others.
In compliance with
their sufferings and aspirations for the establishment of their
state, the Palestinian people wish to hold with all lovers of
Jerusalem and its sons in body and soul the flame of justice and
peace. They address this appeal to the whole world so as not to
let the flame be extinguished. Justice and peace can be possible
if we wish. In this hope we live and for its sake we strive.
believers in Christ, as well as our brethren and all those who
have good will, wish to remain as always callers and workers for
this great hope of justice and peace, whatever the cost. In God
we trust. Grace and peace of God, our father, and our Lord Jesus
Christ be with you. Amen.
Preparatory Committee of the Conference on
“Theology and the Local Church in the Holy Land”.
(July 13-15, 1989).