Fr Georges Massouh is an Antiochian Orthodox priest and the director of the Christian Muslim Studies Center at Balamand University, Lebanon.
Article courtesy of Notes on Arab Orthodoxy
Last week, Christians celebrated the "Week of Prayer for the Unity of Churches," during which they held various activities focusing on prayer for the restoration of the hoped-for unity, enacting
the will of the Lord that they be one just as the Most Holy Trinity is one.
This year, the occasion was overshadowed by concerns on the ground.
Christians are under the difficult circumstances that Syria is going through, where Christians, alongside their Muslim fellow-citizens, are subjected to murder, slaughter, expulsion, kidnapping and rape. These things do not discriminate between Christian and Muslim or between Sunni and Alawite, Shiite, Ismaili and Druze, all victims of the blind hatred that makes no exceptions.
It goes without saying that Christians in Syria do not consider themselves greater or more important that their Muslim partners in the one nation. They find themselves in solidarity with all the people of Syria, in the calamities that they share and the strikes that fall upon all their heads. They are patient and pray at all times for the return of peace, stability and security to the land of their fathers and forefathers.
There is no doubt that Christians, when they pray for the unity of their churches, also pray for the unity of their nations and their societies and the consolidation of their bonds of affection and kinship, regardless of religion or ethnicity. Christianity and insularity are opposites that can never come together. Christianity is either a maker of peace and concord or it does not exist at all.
In this world unity on the religious or national level appears to be very difficult to realize because of human sins and moral failures. However, the blood of the righteous that is shed-- Christian, Muslim, atheist and agnostic-- is what creates unity in the world to come. What humankind cannot do, God does through His mercy and power. The innocent are God's pure ones, regardless of their religion, ideology or race.
Here we can make reference to the Revelation of John, where its writers says of the Kingdom, "Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more deathor mourning or crying or pain" (Revelation 21:3-4). This kingdom was not realized by anything other than the blood of Christ shed upon the cross, "Because you, O Lamb, were slain and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). The Lamb was victorious over the beast and over those who behaved like the beast.
The two kidnapped bishops, who without a doubt are praying without cease for the Church and the nation, the captured nuns of Maaloula, who have no consolation save the power of the life-giving cross, and all those who have been kidnapped and unjustly detained who have no support save the the Help of those who Sorrow, the innocent victims whose blood cries out to their Creator, they are the ones brought together by the one, invisible Church, made by God alone. They also are the makers of the Syria of land, history, and shared future.
Short documentary from Sama TV examining the suffering of Christians during the current conflict in Syria. In Arabic with English subtitles.