On the 17th Day for Peace, 70 Christians and Jews met for two days of dialogue and study at the Focolare’s permanent Mariapolis in Argentina (August 8, 2013 – August 19, 2013).
This year’s theme: “Love of neighbour in the Jewish and Christian traditions.” The programme opened with the testimonies of 6 Jews and 3 Christians who had attended an interreligious gathering organized by the Focolare at Castelgandolfo, Italy, last May. Their experiences highlighted the important steps being taken towards greater mutual understanding.
What is the secret of the success and continuity of this Day for Peace? The participants answer: “It offers a space for sincere sharing that is governed by fraternal affection and mutual respect, in which you are certain of the trust, listening and acceptance by the others.”
There were many salient moments. The first everyone remembers was the encounter with Pope Francis that aroused great emotion.
Focolarina theologian Lidia Erbetta, and Rabbi Silvina Chemen from the Beth El community, then presented a study on chapter 4 of the Book of Genesis. This chapter presents the well-known story of Cain and Abel and that fateful question: “Where is your brother?” Erbetta and Chemen proposed a group dynamic along the lines of the hevruta; that is, a study among equals, according to the tradition of the Talmud for the examination of Biblical texts. But this hevruta was not between only two people but six members of a communion and study group, and was followed by reflections from the presenters.
The same scheme was followed on the second day, this time with Francesco Canzani from the Focolare, and Rabbi Ernesto Yattah, who examined the Gospel text of Mark 12:29-33: the Gospel text in which Jesus recalls that what counts most is to love God and neighbour.
The Day of Peace concluded with a blessing at the olive tree that had been brought from Nazareth 15 years ago by Jewish friend, Ignazio Salzberg. This tree has become a symbol of Jewish-Christian dialogue at Mariapolis Lia.
This year again many spoke of the enthusiasm created by the meeting, the fruit of mutual and respectful dialogue, and the desire to go on living it in each individual’s daily social context.