The Christian Vine
My sculptures don’t often illustrate a historical event as this one does:
Father Elias Chacour , now Archbishop of Galilee, is an Arab Palestinian who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize three times for his peacemaking efforts. He tells a moving story about when he was the young priest of a struggling church in a small Israeli town called Ibillin:
One day the congregation leader came storming over to his room and demand he follow him. He led Fr. Chacour behind the church to show him a small vine. “What is this?”, he demanded.
“It’s a grapevine. Does it upset you?”
“It was planted by the communist next door. It is a communist vine and I demand that you get rid of it!”
“Let’s see what we can do,” said the priest, “Bring me a bucket of water.”
The man did, assuming that Fr. Chacour would use it to loosen the hard soil to dig it up. Instead he poured water over the vine, saying “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. There. Now it is a Christian vine!”
He had made an instantaneous creative response to a vexing problem that in fact has reverberated around the world in our time. Yet that moment that was presented to the young priest is no different than any you and I encounter many times in a day. Now how are we going to live?