By Francesca Merlo
Different religions were represented at the exceptional community prayer that took place on Wednesday afternoon in Jerusalem. There were representatives of Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze denominations. In their own liturgical languages – including Hebrew, Arabic and English – they prayed:
“Hundreds of thousands died, millions have fallen sick. Save, we beseech thee, O Lord. We entreat thee, O Lord, send prosperity! Send complete recovery to the sick, avert the plague from Your world”.
The three-minute-long event was streamed on the internet to allow the faithful to participate despite the restrictions imposed by the quarantine.
It was with the words of Psalm 121 that the pilgrims from Jerusalem placed themselves under God's protection and asked for His blessing. In Israel, this psalm is also prayed on the day of commemoration of the Israeli soldiers who fell victim to terrorism, which will be celebrated next Tuesday, April 28th.
"The coronavirus doesn’t know borders” said said Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem. There are no borders between religions, races or political parties, he explained. The prelate described all these religions saying the same prayer in Jerusalem as a “rare event”, and expressed the hope that this bond could continue even after the Coronavirus crisis has passed.
British Rabbi David Rosen, who is deeply engaged in interreligious dialogue, described this prayer meeting as “historic”. "The religious leaders of this land and this country have come together for the first time ever to recite a joint prayer for divine mercy and compassion of the Lord at this historic moment when we are challenged by a pandemic," he said, introducing the meeting
This live, interreligious prayer was an initiative that involved various authorities and organisations. These included the Grand Rabbinate of Israel and the World Council of Religious Leaders, as well as the Sephardic and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis Jitzchak Josef and David Lau; the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III; Archbishop Pizzaballa; Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif; Imam Sheikh Gamal el Ubra and Imam Sheikh Agel Al-Atrash.
The Joint Global Prayer:
God of the first and of the last, God of all Creatures, Lord of all generations, He arouses those who sleep and awakens those who slumber, He heals the sick, opens the eyes of the blind and raises those who are bowed down. We come before you with a bowed head, and with bent stature, and plead.
Hundreds of thousands died, millions have fallen sick. Save, we beseech thee, O Lord. We entreat thee, O Lord, send prosperity! Send complete recovery to the sick, avert the plague from Your world.
Please – God, You who have nourished us in famine and provided us with plenty, You have removed us from pestilence, and freed us from severe and long-lasting disease – Help us.
Until now, Your mercy has aided us and Your kindness has not abandoned us, therefore we plead and request before You to heal us, Lord and we will be healed, Save us and we will be saved, for You are our glory.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing before you, O Lord, my rock and redeemer.
As in the words of Psalm 121 “A song for ascents:
“I turn my eyes to the mountains; from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot give way; Your guardian will not slumber; see, the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps! The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your protection at your right hand. By day the sun will not strike you, nor the moon by night. The Lord will guard you from all harm; He will guard your life. The Lord will guard your going and coming now and forever.”