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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

 I like to do another reflection upon the Holy Sepulchre. A visit to this Basilica, one of the holiest places in the world, can be very disappointing. It is a bizarre church, and doesn't even look like a normal or usual church. There are at least five religious groups competing for God's ear. It's like show and tell illustrating the tragedy of the  divisions in the church, the Body of Christ. There are the Greek Orthodox , the Armenian Christians, the Roman Catholics, the Ethiopians. the Syrians and the Egyptian Copts.  They all want to have a say in how the church operates.  A few years ago, the only fight or violence that I saw in all of Israel took place in the Holy Sepulcher.  The Armenians and the Greek Orthodox  processions got into a fight over who would have their service at the tomb of Christ at the same time    The police from outside had to be called in to break up the fistfight. But today I even saw at Franciscan shake hands with a Greek orthodox priest.  Years ago that would never have happened

When Christians do not get along it shows that we are contrary to God's will and results in narrowmindedness, nationalism, and self interest.   But it shows that the Lord Jesus did not shy from embracing our seared, broken, and scarred humanity. In this place he rose from the dead to "free those who through the fear of death have been subject to slavery all their life ...  He had to become like us in every way that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest, in order to expiate the sins of the people " (Hebrews 2: 15, 17).  In this weird and bizarre setting, the power of reason life is offered to all. Here Jesus challenges us, his disciples, to live in such a way that their lives are the best proof that he is risen!  
 If you look at the picture, on the ledge under the middle window is a ladder made of cedar wood possibly from Lebanon. The first mention of the ladder was in 1757. It has remained at the same spot since that time. (it was moved twice during that time but move back). The ladder is referred to as the Immovable Ladder. due to an understanding that no cleric of the Christian Orders in the church may move, rearrange, or  alter any property without the consent of the other orders.  On the Pontifical Orders of Pope Paul the sixth in 1964, the ladder was to remain in place until such a time when the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church reach a state of ecumenism. Guess what? The ladder  is still there!   But perhaps the handshake that I saw yesterday might be a start.  Let's hope so. 

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