Two Lebanese youth give a “live” report on their friends in Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. A story of suffering that opens out to new hope.
«The two of us from Lebanon are grateful for this opportunity to speak before such a special assembly that wants to share the hopes and problems of the population, to transform them into laws at the service of man.» These were the opening lines of Lara Abou Moussa and George Zahm, who were among the 400 youth present on 12 March in the Italian Chamber of Deputies gathered in memory of Chiara Lubich. Lara is 25, a graduate in biochemistry and employed in a food control agency, and George is 22 and a marketing and advertising student.
«As you all know, the Middle East is living one of the bloodiest pages in the history of humanity. And before so much horror, it is an extraordinary example of people condemned to death because of their refusal to deny their faith, and who pray for their persecutors and forgive them before being massacred to death, as what happened to the 21 Coptic Christians in Libya last February. We feel profoundly called, as Christians and Muslims living in these countries, to revive the greatness of love and pardon, which will one day change the face of the earth.
Many events in Syria have once again confirmed that love overcomes all and even where it seems impossible. This is the case of a Syrian family that lost two of their children of 3 and 9 years of age. While they were playing on the balcony a missile struck them, precisely in a moment in which they were happy to finally play outdoors, during a so-called cease-fire. In face of the drama and suffering of their parents, the love of the Focolare Community who shared this pain, is helping to heal this deep wound and help them find a meaning to their existence.
Another dramatic fact happened to a family who was expecting a baby. The father and his brother had offered to be volunteers to ensure the safety of their neighbourhoods. The armed groups kidnapped them for two months before releasing their dead bodies to their families, in pieces. Once again the love of the Christian community around these families was able to offer some consolation. These families declared that the force of love is helping them to accept this tragic event and slowly overcome their drama.
One of our friends who wanted to visit us was stopped at the frontier, and by mistake found himself closed up in the darkness of a prison. Having only the sole weapon of prayer and faith in God, he decided to put his suffering aside, to offer to the other prisoners a smile, a listening ear and some advice and also the little food he had. He wanted to testify to God’s love in this obscure place. Seeing his attitude, surprisingly the other prisoners in turn started to be helpful towards the others. A few days later, he was released from prison.
In various places, especially in Jordan, many go out of their way to share their homes and few belongings with the Iraqi refugee families who we consider as brothers and sisters. We try to share the hunger, humiliation, loss of loved one and enrich ourselves with the treasures concealed behind this suffering. The words of Jesus in the Gospel are a continual reminder: “…I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me water, I was a stranger and you welcomed me to your home, I was naked and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you came to visit me!” With many of our friends we experienced and believe firmly, that violence will not have the last word. If it is able to destroy, it will never cancel man and the force of love that lives in him. Before God, as Chiara Lubich said, an act of love can block the hand of a terrorist.»