By Vatican News staff reporter
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Prefect for the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, is once again appealing to Christians throughout the world to support the annual Holy Land Collection, which takes place each year on Good Friday.
The Holy Land collection “was born from the desire of the Popes to maintain a strong link between all the faithful and the Holy Places,” according to the Congregation. “It is the main source of material support for Christian life in the Holy Land and the privileged instrument that the Church provides her children in other parts of the world to express solidarity with the ecclesial communities of the Middle East.”
In his letter, Cardinal Sandri reminds Christians, “Every Holy Week, we spiritually become pilgrims to Jerusalem and contemplate the mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ, Dead and Risen.” This experience, he continued, “is the foundation of the new model of fraternity that derives from the work of reconciliation and pacification among all peoples carried out by the Crucified One.”
The Cardinal notes that Pope Francis reminds us of this “gift of reconciliation” in the encyclical Fratelli tutti. The Pope, he says, “wants to help us to consider all our relationships… in the light of the principle of fraternity.” Fraternity is based on the love of Christ on the Cross, where Jesus “halted the spiral of enmity, broke the vicious circle of hatred and opened for every one the way of reconciliation with the Father, among us, and with the creation itself.”
A year of trials
For the Christians of the Holy Land, as for the rest of the world, 2020 was “a year of trials,” says Cardinal Sandri, due to necessary isolation, the loss of work on account of the lack of pilgrims, and the difficulties in living with dignity and providing for their children. He notes, too, that due to the pandemic, the economic aid normally provided by the Holy Land collection also fell short.
Citing Pope Francis, Cardinal Sandri invites Christians to consider the figure of the Good Samaritan “as a model of active charity,” and to help overcome attitudes of indifference.
God loves a cheerful giver
In these circumstances, Cardinal Sandri expresses his hope that this year’s Holy Land collection will be “an opportunity for everyone not to ignore the difficult situation of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Places, but rather to lighten their burdens.” At the same time, he says, “We must not give up on taking care of the Holy Places that are concrete proof of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and the offering of His life for us and for our salvation.”
He quotes the words of St Paul: “Keep this in mind: he who sows poorly will reap poorly, and he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Let each one give according to what he has decided in his heart, not with sadness or by force, because God loves those who give with joy.” The Apostle adds, “Moreover, God has the power to make all grace abound in you so that, always having the necessary in everything, you can generously perform all good works” (2 Cor. 9:6-8).
Cardinal Sandri concludes his letter by conveying the deep gratitude of Pope Francis to all those “who, in various ways, strive for the success of the Collection, in fidelity to the participation that the Church requires of all her children."