Do not let your hearts be troubled

by Carla Khijoyan last modified 09 March 2020 01:08 PM
Do not let your hearts be troubled

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

09 March 2020

“Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1) said our Lord, but my heart is troubled. I read this morning that the Chaldean Patriarch ordered to close the Churches in Bagdad in order to protect his people from the virus, and my heart got troubled.

Last week in Jerusalem, I saw priests, monks, and religious sisters, wearing masks, while praying in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, on the tomb of the Christ, and my heart got troubled.

I saw faithful people, traveling the world to get to Via Dolorosa, carrying a cross in memory of Jesus’ sufferings. I saw them praying, crying, and walking… on the freshly washed blood of a young man killed minutes ago, in the same street, but they couldn’t see his suffering related anyway to the ones of the Christ… and my heart got troubled.

I travel to Iraq since 2008. I visit churches, faith communities, families. I have seen them struggle throughout the years. I have prayed with them in their destroyed churches. I have seen them pray when there were barely few stones left, when the blood of their brothers and sisters was still spread on the walls. I have seen them, standing, faithfully, without fear. They were never afraid of coming to church, of receiving the Holy Communion. They were not afraid of dying in the presence of our Lord.

I have witnessed Church leaders telling the Christians not to leave the country, while they were being kidnapped, killed, robbed. Our church leaders told them “Do not be afraid, have faith, stay with our Lord Jesus Christ”.

How painful is it to see today these same leaders closing the doors of the churches! Where is our faith? How can we be Christians and let fear close the doors of our hearts and our churches? We can be wise and precautious. We can explain and raise awareness. However, what message do we give to people by closing the doors of churches?

How can we prepare ourselves to the resurrection of the Christ if we think we need a protection mask to pray in the very holy place where his resurrection was announced?

How do we think that Jesus hears our prayers better if we carry a wooden cross in the streets of Jerusalem but we do not see or feel the daily suffering of the people who live there, or even the suffering of our neighbour?

What kind of “globalised faith” are we living today? We do not need a vaccine against the virus but a vaccine against fear. Nevertheless, that vaccine we have already through Baptism, we have it through faith.

Yes, science is important; God gave us the wisdom of discernment, but not to the extent of losing all coherence. I do not want to judge anyone, I just wanted to share my observations from these last days. I wanted to share with you concerns, and thoughts that are troubling my heart.


The impressions, hopes and ideas expressed in this blog are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

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