Maria (Kouremenou) Khoury is the author of Orthodox Christian children's books, including Christina Goes to the Holy Land, which walks readers through the footsteps of Christ. Maria and her husband, David Canaan Khoury, the former mayor of Taybeh and founder of Taybeh Beer, returned to Palestine following the Oslo Accords. The Khoury's current business ventures include the Taybeh Winery and Taybeh Golden Hotel, which welcomes pilgrims to stay overnight in Taybeh, the heart of Palestine.
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12
Every day, I wake up and stare at the new illegal Israeli settlement right in front of my kitchen window. It has been a very different life as a Greek American living in a Palestinian Christian village that my husband loves so much. This morning, after listening to news that I did not understand about a church building put on fire and terrible hate slogans about Christ, I started to call all of my friends to get some information from the ground. Sometimes, just because something is in the news does not mean it happened exactly that way. It was a great comfort that so many people were extremely busy that some of us did not exactly know or understand the details of what happened. And, we somehow try every day to continue a normal pattern of working or functioning with terrible evil all around us. How does one keep sanity with such craziness? May God have mercy since basically, I personally feel, we have gone backwards to the first century.
Finally, at the end of the day, I spoke with with Bishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, who confirmed that the seminary on Mount Zion in Jerusalem was attacked before dawn by two unknown men wearing black masks. They broke through the bathroom window of the seminary and threw a home-made bomb, setting the building on fire. The fire department responded by putting the fire out without anyone being hurt in this awful hate crime. Graffiti on the outside walls written in Hebrew blasphemed Christ. My dear friend Dan said that the relics of Saint Philoumenos were kept at the Mount Zion Seminary until 2009, before being returned to Jacob’s Well at the Church of St. Photini, where the saint was brutally killed by fanatic settlers on November 29, 1979.
Bishop Demetrios helped me understand that the seminary of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate has been operating for more than 300 years. At present, it has local and Greek teachers giving instruction to about fifteen students, ages twelve to seventeen, for general education and learning Greek, English, and Arabic. The new principal is priest monk Father Nicholas, a Greek-Australian who has replaced the late Father Photios, who served as a principal for over twenty years. The community is peaceful and a witness for Christ’s love and peace.
This vicious attack on our precious holy sites today comes after fanatic settlers also burned a mosque near Bethlehem on Wednesday morning. This terrible violence on Palestinian Christian and Muslim holy places is occurring with the 21st anniversary massacre of twenty-nine Palestinian worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron by an American-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein. May God forgive him. However, I surely challenge my church leadership to have a loud voice for a just peace.
May the Light of Christ shine in this terrible dark time in the world, and may the Love of Christ overpower evil. Let us pray to see the humanity in each other.
I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. John 8:12
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