Kerry and Peace Talks in the Middle East

(AP) The Associated Press, on June 27, 2013, released news of another trip to the Middle East by John Kerry. carried the release entitled, “Secretary of State Kerry plunges back into Mideast peace process with fifth trip to region”. The press release describes the agenda for Secretary of State John Kerry’s fifth visit to the Middle East. His official visits on behalf of the United States are meant to assist Israel and Palestine in the peace process, an elusive process that has waxed and waned over the last several decades.

During Kerry’s visit, he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for lunch in Jerusalem. Later in the week he is to have lunch with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman Jordan. The Associated Press reports that Kerry already met with King Abdullah II from Jordan about the Syrian crisis and building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians.

Things will not be easy for Kerry. Nor have they been easy for anyone. Just one day before Kerry departed, Josef Federman, from the Associated Press wrote that “Israel on Wednesday announced plans to build dozens of new homes in a contentious east Jerusalem settlement.” (Click here to read more.)

This is not a new development in the region. Many of the conflicts that have occurred have been in areas surrounding different settlements built within the “green line”. Secretary of State Kerry has been working diligently to restart the peace talks that would be necessary for the existence of a two-state solution. Few are hopefully the mission will be success, as Federman points out, because both sides are trying to stack the deck with acts of goodwill for the wrong reasons- so that when the mission fails, one side can blame it on the other.

So, as the politics continue in the Holy Land, the Franciscans continue their work of safeguarding the Christian presence in the Holy Land. Students continue to be educated, families continue to receive assistance in different forms, the sick and elderly are cared for, seeds of peace are sown through sports and music among youth of different religious cultures and liturgies continue to be offered at the holy sites. The Franciscan Foundation may not be able to control world politics but what they can control is the valuable outreach they provide to Christians in the Holy Land.

Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke, “And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” (Lk 21:9) In the same chapter, just four verses later, he says, “This will be a time for you to bear testimony.” Thankfully there are no wars in the Holy Land. May there never be again. But may the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land use this time to continue to bear testimony to Jesus Christ and his Church through their acts of charity.