“Rejoice, Zion, Holy Mother of all the Churches of God” is the official title of the Rum Orthodox (Greek/Hellenistic/Byzantine) Patriarchate of Jerusalem. According to the firmans (regulations) that were in force by the time of the Ottomans and have not been denied by the British, the Jordanians, the Israelis, the Palestinian Authority and by the other Churches also by the way, this “jurisdiction” is at the cradle of the history of redemption through the birth and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, also called and proclaimed the Messiah/Christ(os) by the faithful and believers.
It often appears as a challenge: first because the Greek Orthodox Church as such seems to be “smaller” than ever before among the other denominations. Other Churches would have their pretense and they show them quite frequently. it is always amazing as Churches and Church leaders never tend to be willing to “be last”… At least they could become “first”… according to the words of the Master.
It is a special “mystery” that this small local Church has passed through the centuries, surviving destruction, persecutions, terrible hardships, bankruptcy, hunger, plundering and expropriation, killings from inside the Church and outside, invaders. Two thousand years have passed and this kernel congregation meets again with those who constitute the first cradle of the Church of Zion of Hebrew culture. This was written in the Books of the Prophets, it does not mean it is something “acceptable” when it happens. Still on the way.
Being the Mother of All the Churches of God, we encompass – often totally against our will or awareness – all the nations, to begin with the Jewish nation as such ad opened to the pagans. No superseding is possible though it appears to be a terrible temptation. “Hellenistic” undoubtedly as having brought to the Christian civilization the words of the Lord and developed them into the realm of cultures and languages, minds and behaviors.
In that sense we are “universal” and this is the challenge Jerusalem will have to face. It is stunning, somehow intriguing but the other Local Churches are “in exile” from Jerusalem and should come back according to the Vision of the Apocalypse. It often occurs when believers come to venerate the icons they would not greet any human being, not even a priest. It may turn that some day, looking at each other, we will call each other to rejoice, deeply gladden for showing that encountering each other we show the face of the Living God and of His only-begotten Son, animated by a spirit of compassion and human feelings,
[I had previously uploaded another picture with this quotation taken from the Katholikon inside of the big nave of the Rum orthodox Church of the Holy Sepulcher/Anastasis. This photograph was taken in the hall of reception of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. It had been painted for the celebration of the 2000 by Russian iconographers and painters].