واحد, إثنان, ثلاثة , waaHid, ithnayn, talaata (left to right read)

24 Dec

Sitting in my den at 8:21 a.m. on what my mother called “Christmas Eve day,” my mind and my heart, my thoughts and my prayers wander to the Middle East, and more specifically to Palestine, and more specifically to Bethlehem, and more specifically to Beit Jala, adjacent to Bethlehem.

It is Beit Jala that warms my Christian heart and sustains, what others have called, my Palestinian soul. I have fallen hopelessly in love with Beit Jala with a love full of hope which longs for peace for my friends, no, my family, in Beit Jala.

On Facebook I found a post by my (our) friend Waseim. From Arabic his name translates as “Handsome,” which has given the two of us many smiles since I first teased him, “Something certainly gets lost in translation!” I asked him to post it on YouTube, so that I could copy it and embed it here. Within hours of his waking in Beit Jala on Christmas Eve, he honored me and my request, as he always does, and so it appears below.

The countdown is obvious to our ears, however different the sound of the numbers. The feel of Jingle Bells is the same, no matter the language. And we join in singing the “Gloria in excelsis Deo” like we (and they) will sing those words in our hometown churches, here in the little town of Milford and there in the little town of Bethlehem.

Fireworks, of different kinds, are a common occurrence in the area surrounding Beit Jala, some set off in celebration and some set off in conflict. On this occasion, however, as during the celebrations of weddings, graduations and baptisms, the fireworks are explosively joyous. At the end of the video the noise of the fireworks overtakes the singing of “Glory to God in the highest.” We all live in hope that one day soon the song of the angels will overcome all military firing, and Beit Jala and Palestine and all the region will live in peace with justice with all her neighbors who deserve and long for the same freedoms and rights.

May Beit Jala know the peace the angels sang about during that mid-night on which Christ was born.

Twice Waseim turned the camera toward his parish church, Annunciation Catholic Church in Beit Jala, where I first met “my five (grand) children” – Issa, Mary, Ranim, Tamara and Tamer – back in 2003, and where Waseim worships every Sunday with Father Faysal, the parish priest, with the families of Beit Jala, with Suhail, the principal, with the teachers and students of the Latin Patriarchate School, and with the seminarians of the attached Latin Patriarchate Seminary. To all of them my heart will turn, as I turn my prayers to God at Midnight Mass for them.

5 Responses to “واحد, إثنان, ثلاثة , waaHid, ithnayn, talaata (left to right read)”

  1. Mandy December 24, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    I think of and pray for our friends every day. I so love our Christmas songs because you took us there and I “see” O Little Town of Bethlehem ” and Shepherd’s Field of Silent Night.

  2. Waseim Kasabry December 24, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Thank you Fr…. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2015

  3. Char December 24, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Lovely and blessed to know that you have still much love and much to do ahead of you!!!
    Your “retirement” will be full and fruitful and full of God’s love for you!!

  4. Sharon Bohlen December 25, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    Beautifully said, Father Rob. At mass, Silent Night, sung for our communion mediation, had me in tears. Such a beautiful place with such beautiful people – Beit Jala. Bethlehem. The Word Incarnate lives through His people. Peace, and HOPE to you this Christmas, Abuna!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bethlehem Today | The Catholic Beat - December 26, 2014

    […] pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle parish in Milford (OH). This post originally appeared on his blog, With Open Doors, on Christmas […]

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