Between Brad and Bkerke…

February 9th, St. Maroun’s day, the founder of the Maronite Church.

On this day, we are observing two totally different scenes.
One in Bkerke, Lebanon and one in Brad, Syria.

In Bkerke, the Maronite Patriach, held Mass to celebrate the day. Notable politicians attended.
In Brad, a Lebanese Maronite political leader took his family and supporters to celebrate the day.

The difference in meaning between both celebrations is anything but subtle…

Do not be fooled by the apparent religious cover of the celebration in Brad… it is all political.
Brad might have been an important Maronite location in the past but the present value of this site is what matters: there is nothing currently Maronite about it except its history. If Maronites had felt it suitable to stay in Brad, I’m positive Brad would have been a Maronite beacon today. But this is not the case. What is left in Brad is a few ruins to commemorate the days when Maronites were actually there.

On the other hand, Bkerke is the seat of Maronitisim of the whole Levant region – it is the reference. It is the place where people should celebrate St. Maroun’s day. It is where all Lebanese citizens, regardless of their religious affiliations, come to share the celebration with the Patriarch.
Look at it this way, what would be the value of Rome and the Vatican if they weren’t the current location and base of the Holy See?

This political leader probably thinks he’s making a good deed by visiting Syria to celebrate this day. He probably believes that showing that not all Maronites consider the Patriarch and Bkerke their reference, to further solidify the idea that the diversity in Lebanon, even within certain sects, is a good thing, only working to the enriching of society. I believe this is the best case scenario explanation of his motive.
It would have been good if this precise leader wasn’t so adamant about fighting for Christian – and precisely Maronite – rights.
A simple common sense question I believe I am entitled to ask: do you believe, Mr. politician, that showing a divided front to the world is a good way to fight for your rights? What rights are we supposed to fight for if we can’t even agree where we want to celebrate our founder’s day? What gives us the right to even fight for our rights if we can’t even agree on a proper reference for us in our country?
The reality is: he wants to show that a sizable fragment of Maronites actually consider him their reference.

What is even more ironic is the hypocrisy this leader has shown throughout his dealings with Bkerke and yet his followers seem to forget about it.
2005: The patriarch and Bkerke side with him… the patriarch does not receive any bashing
2005 onwards: This politician shifts sides.
2005 onwards: The Patriarch and Bkerke became critical of him and he, along with his followers, began bashing the patriarch.

This leader is preaching to his followers in Brad. But what about those followers? I know some of them. Some of them are from my hometown, I even share blood with some. And I’ve heard them say on way too many occasions that “our patriarch isn’t worth Hassan Nasrallah’s shoe”. This is how low these people think of their patriarch, their true reference. What does that say of them?
And why do they think so low of the patriarch? Because their political leader is at odds with how the Patriarch views the right direction for our country to be… You see, the simple chronological sequence I illustrated earlier only goes to show that the Patriarch and Bkerke are firm in their convictions. They have not changed. It is those who have changed and cannot tolerate criticism that have been the most sensitive and therefore, the most brutal towards Bkerke.

There are many more differences between Brad and Bkerke than a few hundred kilometers… the difference between Brad and Bkerke is that of ideology.

The only thing this political leader is accomplishing is distancing himself from the Maronite Church. If only he had the common sense to see that this Church he is trying to ignore is a 1600 year old institute that has overcome many, many bigger hurdles than the one he thinks he’s setting up.
If only he had the common sense to see that, at least on St. Maroun’s day, he should at least attend Mass at Bkerke and show the world that at least on the day of their founding, Maronites are united in their cause to stay in the country that made them and in the country that they have made.