24-26 May 2014

Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land is a call to dialogue and encounter, a call to excel and transcend walls and borders, says Gregorios III.

On his return from Jordan, His Beatitude Gregorios III, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, hailed this pilgrimage of Pope Francis as the culmination of a fifty-year long journey punctuated by the annual feast-days of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew; Roman delegations in Constantinople for Saint Andrew’s day and Constantinopolitan delegations to the Vatican for Saint Peter’s, Joint Commissions for Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue …

 

This pilgrimage of the Holy Father is full of spiritual symbols, according to H.B. Gregorios III. It is enough merely to glance at the itinerary to realise that it constitutes an appeal to excel and transcend borders. Moving continually between one country and another, among Christians, Muslims and Jews, Pope Francis has once again launched an appeal for dialogue and encounter.

This was a call for more spirituality; a call to excel; shift boundaries; go beyond walls of partition, such as the wall around Bethlehem; a call to transcend borders… spiritual and material walls.

The Holy Father Francis came to tell us that “Christ is our peace.” He too came to bring peace, meaning that the Vatican is a “peace-maker”! It seems highly symbolic too that this pilgrimage of Pope Francis is his first trip outside Italy, since the World Youth Days in Brazil (23-28 July 2013).

Peace in the Holy Land, the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the cessation of violence and the beginning of dialogue in Syria, were also central to Pope Francis’ appeals.

The Holy Father summons each of us to change his way of thinking and seeing and go beyond borders and walls in order to continue to be salt and leaven in these holy lands. This reminds us of the words of Pope Saint John Paul II stating that the Holy Land is the “homeland of the heart of all the spiritual descendants of Abraham … the sacred patrimony of all believers.”

On the eve of the Holy Father’s arrival, His Beatitude Gregorios III participated in the joint talk given by all the Eastern Patriarchs, and signed the joint request of the leaders of the Eastern Catholic Churches asking Pope Francis to fix a common date for the Feast of Pascha, to be selected by the Holy Father from the second fortnight of April.

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Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate
Of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem


Teachings of Christ

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest." (Proverbs 6:6-8 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

There was a man who ate a lot and was still hungry, and another who ate little and was satisfied. The one who ate a lot and was still hungry received a greater reward than he who ate little and was satisfied.

Apophthegmata Patrum