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John Feister concludes his daily reports from the Middle East with reflections on injustice at home and abroad.

Special Features
Day 8: Concluding Thoughts

The trip is over now, and all of us journalists are back home. I doubt that any of us will ever look at the Middle East in the same way again. Granted, we got an earful of the Palestinian side of the story, but don’t we get a monthly, weekly, even daily dose of the Israeli perspective?

We talked to a lot of people over a weeks’ time. Our schedule included about 5 events per day (usually 15 hours’ worth) for 7 days. It was a ton of input that I’ll be thinking about and sorting through for weeks to come. I hope to add a number of pieces to this website in the coming weeks, as the Special Synod of Bishops occurs, and as we hear Pope Benedict’s reflections and challenges after the Synod. The Holy Land, as we heard so much this week, is in need of our attention.

Two Sides to Israel

In the coming weeks another correspondent from our shop, Jennifer Scroggins, will go to Lebanon and Syria with Catholic Near East for the conclusion of this immersion experience. Look for her reports starting early in November.

Israeli soldiers at the new gate of Jerusalem's Old City (Photo by John Feister)
I reflected in my final video about the two worlds of Israel: the pretty side versus the Palestinian side. I couldn’t help but consider how much we do the same in our own U.S. culture. St. Anthony Messenger Press is next to the Franciscan motherhouse in a tough part of town. People around Cincinnati hear about our “Over the Rhine” neighborhood constantly on the news: shootings, crime, all sorts of trouble. It’s where the riots started here some years ago that earned a black eye for our region.

The point

But Cincinnati is a comfortable place to these people who watch Over the Rhine on the news. The outlying suburbs, I dare to say, remind me of the Israeli settlements: safe, comfortable places away from those dangerous poor people, perceived to be a black majority, whether that’s true or not. My point is this: I saw plenty of injustice in Palestine. I saw greed and racism at work. To a lesser degree, I’ve seen some of the same closer to home. I must say, though, there are no soldiers walking the streets with machine guns here! As Christians, though, we are challenged to open our eyes to injustice near and far.

When there is a moment of opportunity for justice, as there may well be now in Palestine, we should pay attention and offer our solidarity. In the hills where our Lord walked, in the towns and cities where he taught us to love, we are reminded that we all are one body. Click here to go back to the main page.




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Conversion of St. Paul: Paul’s entire life can be explained in terms of one experience—his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In an instant, he saw that all the zeal of his dynamic personality was being wasted, like the strength of a boxer swinging wildly. Perhaps he had never seen Jesus, who was only a few years older. But he had acquired a zealot’s hatred of all Jesus stood for, as he began to harass the Church: “...entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment” (Acts 8:3b). Now he himself was “entered,” possessed, all his energy harnessed to one goal—being a slave of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation, an instrument to help others experience the one Savior. 
<p>One sentence determined his theology: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with people—the loving group of people Saul had been running down like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfillment of all he had been blindly pursuing. </p><p>From then on, his only work was to “present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me” (Colossians 1:28b-29). “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and [with] much conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5a). </p><p>Paul’s life became a tireless proclaiming and living out of the message of the cross: Christians die baptismally to sin and are buried with Christ; they are dead to all that is sinful and unredeemed in the world. They are made into a new creation, already sharing Christ’s victory and someday to rise from the dead like him. Through this risen Christ the Father pours out the Spirit on them, making them completely new. </p><p>So Paul’s great message to the world was: You are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do. Saving faith is the gift of total, free, personal and loving commitment to Christ, a commitment that then bears fruit in more “works” than the Law could ever contemplate.</p> American Catholic Blog If you’re confused as to why God would die for you, you either need to rethink your vision of His mercy or of your own worth.


 
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CATHOLIC GREETINGS
Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity
Loving God, give us imagination and courage to build your Church together in unity and in love.
St. Francis de Sales
Celebrate today with Catholic writers and journalists who claim this 16th-century saint as their patron.
St. Marianne Cope
This 19th-century woman religious is best known for her years of service to the people of Hawaii.
March for Life
Catholic Greetings and AmericanCatholic.org encourage all to support local and national efforts to protect and defend human life from conception to natural death.
Sacrament of Confirmation
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