Conference "Damascus: Prism of hopes" - Rome, Pontifical Oriental Institute. Speech of Fr David E. Nazar sjPontificio Istituto Orientale
Programma e RelatoriWelcome, dear friends and honoured guests. I refrain from naming by your many honorific titles since we are truly gathered here as friends on a search. Our search is for the glimmers of truth that are found partially in each of us but entirely in none of us. Thus, without a conversation of friends, we will never find the truth that sets us free. To make this point more clearly, let me name only some of the nationalities that we find among us here in this hall. Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Egyptians, Eritreans, Ethiopians, Armenians, Turks, Indians, Ukrainians, Russians, Georgians, Romanians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenians, Croatians, Belgians, Brazilians, Albanians, Maltese, Greeks, Swiss, Italians, Canadians, and, since the recent elections in the United States, Americans who may now be seeking asylum in your country.
In a world that is getting ever more closely knit together, this is the only kind of community that can honestly look for the truth. We are so inter-cultural, so inter-economic, so inter-linguistic, so inter-electronic, that we cannot separate ourselves from one another, even were we to want it.
The great prophets of the Old Testament, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, were not eccentric visionaries waiting for revelations in smoky temples. They walked the streets. They listened to those who suffered injustice. If you read Isaiah 1 or Isaiah 20, you see a fine analysis of the social, political, and economic situation of Israel. The great prophets saw the effects of greed and violence. Only then could they hear the word that God wished to speak. Only after Isaiah makes his detailed analysis does he speak to the heart of Israel. God speaks not in general terms but in specific terms to bring healing, forgiveness, and hope to the complications that we face.
The Orientale provides a safe atmosphere for those who have walked, heard, seen, and studied the streets of the Middle East. We have youth and elders. We have people who have worked in the field of war and human suffering. We have academics who have studied these issues. We have hierarchs who want to speak to heart of the people. We have diplomats and politicians who have struggled to articulate a solution. And surely, each of us has prayed for peace in the Middle East. It is already miraculous that such a collection of people has gathered together here in one place. Normally, if we took the example of others, we would be at war here. There would already be blood on the floor. Yet we are not looking with eyes of vengeance and destruction. Through the pain and conflict, through the anguish and suffering, through the experience of war and death, we are looking through the eyes of hope. Each person sees something, even if unclearly. Together, eyes united, we have the hope of seeing with the very eyes of God.
Damascus: Prism of Hope. A prism splits light into many rays, many colours, many effects. In reverse, the prism unites the many rays into one single brilliant light. May these days be the prism that brings light.