The "apple" is still absent

Submitted by munir on Sun, 04/07/2024 - 11:45

My eyes were welling with tears as I was watching my brother and colleague Fr. Yousef As'ad, the parish priest in Gaza, holding an apple and saying--as he usually makes postings when the Internet is active--“After six months of vegetable and fruit deprivation, I received today a gift, namely a red apple."


Friends, imagine these impressive two lines written by Fr. Yousef, two days after Easter celebrations which he marked with his parishioners who have been staying next the Holy Family Church since the start of the aggression against Gaza last October. Suddenly "we met an apple in the square" which causes a conflux of joy after being six months apart!


It is a very normal and ordinary issue for millions of people who enjoy daily life with a large number of apples, fruits, and sweets, and enjoy other luxuries of this life. Yet, the priest of Gaza rejoices as he receives this rare present in the horrible time, as if it were the valuable precious present of Easter.


Let us consider the fact that Fr. Yousef shares the same status quo of the Palestinian people in Gaza. It is the condition of a people who has been deprived of its most basic rights, of the simplest means in this life, and of the simplest types of food, water, and medicine. They are a suffering people despite the huge aid that was delivered, whether to the Church or to the entire displaced people in their locations, and in tents, while living as strangers and far from their original home. Fr. Joseph, of the Order of the Incarnate Word, is Egyptian and parish priest of the Holy Family Church which is affiliate with the Latin Patriarchate. He is fully aware of the Holy Bible and knows that one of the signs relevant to the time when an enemy comes and destroys a country, is the absence of the fruits in that land, as stated in the book of the Prophet Joel: “The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy withered away from the sons of men." (Joel 1:12)


A priest in Gaza rejoices in an apple at a time when we do not know the one who had sent it, yet we convey gratitude to the one who brought this smile and joy to a people who have the right to rejoice in an apple after 40 days of Lenten fasting.


Continuing Fr. Yousef’s posting to its end, it states: “I shared this apple with three people.” The aggression against Gaza has deepened fraternal love, sharing, and the joy by resorting to simple things, yet the greatest joy is in the principle of sharing and participation, namely sharing the daily bread, as well as sharing the apple that seems bright and pure after six months of deprivation. Peace, tranquility, justice and apples were absent... but love and sharing remained witnesses to the depth of human brotherhood beneath the destruction.


Let us think for a while about the amount of foods that humans consume on daily bases, and let us think about the amount of food that is thrown away daily. How many blessings and goodies are there that we do not view as blessings except during a state of deprivation! Let us think about sharing and feeding the hungry that we Christians and Muslims must do in our procession--whether towards Easter by fasting for forty days or towards the Feast of Iftar by fasting in Ramadan--by making donations in order to support our brethren who are deprived of the simplest means of a daily happy life. Let us consider a broader perspective of the affluence that is perhaps enjoyed by a small percentage of humans. Yet, this percentage can serve as a source for the happiness for the vast majority of the hungry and the needy in the world nowadays. Consider how a priest with an apple was able to instill joy in three people. Can't the rich people of this time follow the same example and help millions of the hungry brethren in the world!


We are not talking about middle ages, but rather about the 21st century, where a priest rejoices and maps out a smile of the feast with an apple that emerges to him smiling after six months of absence and deprivation.


What a world we live in, and what a world we want to build together, friends? Let's think together, inspired by solutions for the future from a red apple!

Images, Video or Audio
Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader