Prayers4Peace: Maundy Thursday of Lent 2024

How do children look to a better future when it seems there is no future?
Maundy Thursday of Lent 2024
Written by Sir Jeffrey Abood, KGCHS (Knight Grand Cross of the Holy Sepulchre)

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

Hebrews 12:2 – “…looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

8-Children-receive-1st-Communion-in-Gaza
Photo – Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

How do children look to a better future when it seems there is no future?

Palestinians have a word, “sumud,” meaning steadfast perseverance. It is a word rooted in both the Muslim and Christian faith traditions. This steadfastness unveils an ability for those caught in war to look beyond the here and now and not give up; in looking toward a better future, it provides hope during dark times. As the Scripture says: they persevere for the sake of the joy set before them. 

It may seem odd that in the middle of trying to survive a genocide, the children at Holy Family Parish in Gaza City have used their precious time to go through a lengthy confirmation process, complete their classes, and receive their First Communion. 

Holy Family Parish in Gaza City is situated on a campus that houses the church, a school, three convents, and a home for severely disabled children. They have all lived in Gaza under a blockade and siege for seventeen years. Since October, the campus has been surrounded by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), who have the ability to take the life of anyone trying to enter or leave. Many of the 600 or so people sheltering inside, including sixty severely disabled children cared for by the nuns, are wounded and have almost no electricity, food, water, or medicine.

According to the nuns living there, “Sometimes, some generous and courageous people in the neighborhood bring something for us to eat. Whatever we receive from outside, the sisters first serve the residents. If there is anything left, then we eat. Sometimes just one meal a day … most of the time, it is just one meal a day… One day we had just one loaf of bread shared among three… The other day it was just an orange, and the three sisters shared it among them… We will not go and leave our people. We are here to accompany them; we cannot possibly abandon them.” 

Recently the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pizzaballa, even singled out the “strength and steadfast faith demonstrated by the parishioners of Gaza.” 

It is this sumud, this perseverance, birthed in faith, which leads to a vision and hope for a future joy set to come; sumud wherein Gazans are empowered to endure the cross they are forced to carry. This hope is what the nuns, priests, and parishioners at Holy Family have passed along to the children. And so, the milestone of a First Communion serves as a marker that such faith, envisioning the reality of the eternal, continues to the next generation and will never die.

About the author: Sir Jeffrey Abood, KGCHS, chairs the Catholic Advisory Council of Churches for Middle East Peace. He has been knighted by the Vatican into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, an Order that provides for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and of all the activities and initiatives to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. He is a speaker and a writer who conveys the perspective and experience of the church, and the wider Christian community in the Holy Land, to the world. 


Please note any views or opinions contained in this devotional series are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

3 Comments On “Prayers4Peace: Maundy Thursday of Lent 2024”

  1. God stirring peacemakers throw us off our complacent mounds and into the Gospel mandate to Love

  2. I am praying with you and for you – for God’s grace to prevail.
    May God bless you all as we walk with Jesus to the Cross, as we await resurrection in our lives.

  3. Janie Marie Stein

    Praying with you for Peace on Earth, liberation for all, comfort and healing for Mother Earth and all Creation.

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