O Little Town of Bethlehem

12-23-2012Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

From the start the little town of Bethlehem was inhospitable to Joseph and Mary, no room at the Inn, and the city of the Savior's birth continues to be an unfriendly place for His followers. Today less than 2% of the population in the area is Christian. The spirit of Herod still haunts the place. We should not neglect to remember this as we celebrate in freedom the birth of the one born in Bethlehem. Two thousand years later the hatred towards God's people is as strong as ever.

On November 29 the United Nations passed a resolution granting "non-member observer status" to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, the Palestinian territories. Ironically this was 65 years to the date that the UN developed a partition plan creating a Palestinian state and a Jewish state. At that time the Jews accepted the plan but the Arab nations rejected it and tried to take all of Palestine by force. Hence there has never been a functional Palestinian state. Somehow the United Nations forgot about the 1947 Arab rejection of a Palestinian state and the five wars in which they tried to take all of the Jewish state.

While only the UN Security Council can grant member status this new resolution changes things quite a bit in the Middle East by giving people bent on the destruction of Israel legitimacy. The Palestinian territories are ruled by the Palestinian Authority which is really the old Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas. Both are internationally recognized terrorist groups. Even when these territories where under the control of Arab and Muslim nations (1948-1967) like Egypt and Jordan, they themselves never recognized a state of Palestine. Not only that but all the while these territories have been under the control of the PLO and Hamas. They refuse to build a stable society or a working economy despite billions of dollars of international assistance. Their leadership keeps the people in crushing poverty, which is blamed on the Jews, which in turn keeps the hatred alive. Even when Israel met their demands and traded land for peacea few years ago, giving over the entire Gaza strip, the Palestinian authority and Hamas have only used it as a launching pad for rockets fired into Israel. And Israel is constantly chastised for defending itself from the attacks. The astonishing irony is that the UN which created the state of Israel now turns its back on a long-time member state by raising the disputed territories to the level of a state and showing little concern for Israeli security by recognizing a state led by terrorist organizations. Fortunately the US strongly objected to this farce and US Ambassador Rice stated during the vote "you cannot create a state where none exists".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon actively pushed the resolution declaring that, "generations of Palestinians and Israelis long for peace". How is it that rational people really believe that the PLO and Hamas long for a peaceful existence "side by side with a secure Israel"? Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that what they long for is a peaceful existence on the top of the graves of every Jew. The end game is not a state of Palestine but the complete annihilation of the state of Israel. That should be obvious to the geniuses at the UN.On their part the Israelis have repeatedly stated that for an independent Palestinian state to exist their leaders must first recognize the right of Israel to exist and stop engaging in acts of war. Without these conditions Israel would be signing on to a suicide pact. But world leaders seem to always take the side of the Palestinians against the Jews so the Palestinian leaders know that they need not do the hard work of trying to solve the problem since other world leaders will do it for them.

The Bible tells us of this "everlasting enmity" (Ezekiel 35) this almost supernatural and certainly irrational hatred directed at the Jews because they are Jews. And it continues even till today. What we need to remember this Christmas is that our history has been and is yet intertwined with the history of Israel. The scriptures also foretold that at the coming of the Messiah the world would be aligned against Israel and so it was. Before the second coming of Christ the Bible also says that the world's hatred towards Israel will engulf the nations in a great battle. Are we almost there?

Jerusalem, the city whose name literally means "to see peace" has rarely known peace. Certainly the peace of Jerusalem is not any type of peace this world can give. It is God's peace. The Prince of Peace came to Jerusalem to show us the way to God's peace. The same Prince of Peace will come again and vanquish the enemies of God's people and then and only then will all hostilities cease and His peace will reign forever.

Until He comes again let us all be instruments of His Peace. Merry Christmas!

Love, Fr. John B.