Advent is a time of prayer, anticipation and reflection. It’s also a time of reconciliation. There are few regions in the world that need the hands and hearts of reconciliation more than the Middle East.

As we light Advent candles in our churches and prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas, it’s second-nature to look to the Holy Land and reflect on the people of the lands where Jesus was born. But how accurately do we contemplate the realities they are facing?

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It’s a bit too late for Happy New Year greetings but today does see us enter our modest radio studio for the first Middle East Analysis podcast of 2016.

The focus for today’s programme is the Holy Land Coordination – a week long pilgrimage made by bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa to visit and support the local Christian communities of the Holy Land.

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Fr Mario da Silva is a Brazilian priest working in a small Catholic parish. Not unusual you might think. That is until you learn that Fr Mario’s ministry is to offer spiritual support to the Christians of Gaza – that beleaguered, small strip of Palestinian land on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean bordering Egypt and Israel.

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