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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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Sharbel Makhluf: Although this saint never traveled far from the Lebanese village of Beka-Kafra, where he was born, his influence has spread widely. 
<p>Joseph Zaroun Makluf was raised by an uncle because his father, a mule driver, died when Joseph was only three. At the age of 23, Joseph joined the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, and took the name Sharbel in honor of a second-century martyr. He professed his final vows in 1853 and was ordained six years later. </p><p>Following the example of the fifth-century St. Maron, Sharbel lived as a hermit from 1875 until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. When his superiors occasionally asked him to administer the sacraments to nearby villages, Sharbel did so gladly. </p><p>He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1965 and canonized him 12 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog You cannot claim to be ‘for Christ’ and espouse a political cause that implies callous indifference to the needs of millions of human beings and even cooperate in their destruction.


 
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