Friday, 12 September 2008

Stand up, get your hands dirty, peace needs the proactive

Speaking at the last panel of the day on Thursday at the Promised Land Conference, His Emminence Archbishop Elias Chacour spoke passionately and not from a written text (always a challenge for the interpreters!). He told wonderful and painful stories about his ministry in Galilee, about having become a refugee in his own land.
He is a passionate believer in non-violence but this doesn't mean he believes in being passive or letting injustice go unchallenged.
As a speaker of eleven languages he also pointed to how taking a new look at the translation of the Beatitudes could help us reconsider the basis of our Christian commitment.
Translators rendered the Aramaic, Hebrew term "ashreï" that Jesus would have used and gave it the meaning of the Greek "makarioï" which in French or English is often rendered as happy or blessed. But "ashreï" has rather the meaning get up or get going, debout or en marche in French. Archbishop Chacour quoted André Chouraqui's translation into French of the Beatitudes which takes this challenge up and also seems to fit well within the framework of the overall message and movement of the gospel of Christ.
Chacour insisted that "peace needs the proactive, don't sit down, stand up, get your hands dirty" he said. "If you are hungry you will fish all day trying to find something to feed yourself and your family ... if we truly hunger and thirst for justice then we will do likewise."
So try reading the beatitudes differently replacing the words "blessed" or "happy" with "stand up" or "set out." One step on the way to becoming proactive for peace.

Chouraqui translated not only the old and new testaments but also the Coran into modern French. As a linguist he tried to show the links in the language for God between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It was powerful to hear him being quoted by a Palestinian Christian Archbishop yesterday. Linguists do like to think that we can help in some small way to change the world.

Matthew 5 by André Chouraqui
1 Et, voyant les foules, il monte sur la montagne et s'assoit là. Ses adèptes s'approchent de lui.
2 Il ouvre la bouche, les enseigne et dit:
3 "En marche, les humiliés du souffle! Oui, le royaume des ciels est à eux!
4 En marche, les endeuillés! Oui, ils seront réconfortés!
5 En marche les humbles! Oui, ils hériteront la terre!
6 En marche, les affamés et les assoiffés de justice! Oui, ils seront rassasiés!
7 En marche, les matriciels! Oui, ils seront matriciés!
8 En marche, les coeurs purs! Oui, ils verront Elohîm!
9 En marche, les faiseurs de paix! Oui, ils seront criés fils d'Elohîm!
10 En marche, les persécutés à cause de la justice! Oui, le royaume des ciels est à eux!
11 En marche, quand ils vous outragent et vous persécutent en mentant, vous accusent de tout crime à cause de moi.
12 Jubilez, exultez! votre salaire est grand aux ciels! Oui, ainsi ont-ils persécuté les inspirés, ceux d'avant vous."