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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I like to end my retreat journey with a prayer.  

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” 
(Gospel of July 19, 2015)

Father, I have walked in the steps of your Son.  I have seen the flowers of the field. I have heard the birds of the air: he said that both of them tell of your love. I have been warmed by the sun that shone on him, cooled by the breezes that refreshed him.  I have been to the sea where he calmed the storm; to the waters where your Spirit came upon him.  I have had sorrow at Calvary... But rejoiced at the empty tomb for the same power by which he was raised and is at work in me.

Bless all Palestinians and Israelis who have welcomed me to their homeland.  Protect and strengthen our Christian sisters and brothers who live here. Let your justice and peace prevail throughout this land.  And bring us all to the heavenly Jerusalem to sing our Alleluias forever. 

Amen. Shalom. Salaam. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Today I drove to the Golan Heights with a view into Syria and also looking towards Mount Hermon.
It's really nice to get into the upper part of Israel. It seems like you get away from all civilization, driving through the Druse villages. You go by the crusader fortress of Nimrod. Then on to Herod Phillip's capital Caesarea Philippi.  This is also the source of the Jordan River.

Greeks and Romans saw the nature of the area and declared it to be the Kingdom of Pan. But Jesus saw the source of the life-giving Jordan bursting from the massive rock and it reminded him of the the rock upon which He would build his church. Once again, water.   So many buildings and walls here are still built on rock. And that Rock would be responsible for the keys of another kingdom.

There are still niches and temples surviving to all gods at this site.
But Pan is the god of the forests and shepherds.  He is also the messenger between the living and the dead. So Jesus took his disciples there, once again on a mountain to question them.   Who do you say that I am? Of course Peter answered, "you are the Messiah, the son of the living God".  Great answer. But after Jesus revealed to them the future that he would have to suffer and die but rise again, Peter screwed up again. Said, "Well see to it that this will never happen to you." And Jesus said, "Get out of my sight. "You are a Satan"  Wow, the rock really crumbled.

Once again, Peter reacted in the wrong way.  
Must have been a long, long walk back home.  It's always difficult to be rock.  You can't always be hard. There has to be some softness. The Church is at its best when there is is some softness.  Pope Francis is showing us that.  With the gentleness of St. Francis who is the original Custos of this land, he is able to knock off some of our rough edgess and be better to serve the Lord and build up the Church.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Being a disciple of Jesus must have been depressing and discouraging at times. There seems to be hostility from some religious groups, Jesus accused all the time of being a Sabbath breaker, etc.   Jesus was trying to take away from the Rabbis their role of interpreting scripture.  They occupied the chair of Moses and they also wore the mantle of Elijah.   Was Jesus the Messiah or not?  The disciples had to get away to sort things out.  

 On Mount Tabor, they were able to finally understand Jesus.  
The place was so peaceful and so moving that they felt a deep reassurance when they had seen the vision of Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah.  They saw Jesus as the Messiah.  They wanted to build temples to the three of them, Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

 With renewed confidence they could shed their doubts, anguish and fear and just listen to him.  Perhaps not understanding everything but at least they began to listen with renewed energy.

Tabor is also a challenge to us.  We get so busy and have so many voices telling us their own values, priorities, and plans.  We need to find a time to be alone with God.
 It could be just a short time each day.  It's quality of time, not quantity.  As Psalm 46 says "Be still and know that I am God",
Two important sites in Nazareth are the Synagogue and the Precipice. The synagogue is where Jesus took the scroll and read from Isaiah.
 That he is the fulfillment of what he read.
 He couldn't leave well enough alone.  He had to give examples where Gentiles received help from God but not the Jewish people.  That made them really angry.  Because their country was being controlled by Gentiles. The Romans were cruel to them and saying that God helps Gentiles before Jews was utter blasphemy to them. They took Jesus to the highest mountain to throw him over.  That was the punishment for a religious sin.  
But Jesus walked away from them and went to Capernaum where he would be more widely be accepted.  There he started his formal ministry. From the Precipice you can see Mt. Tabor.  I wonder if Jesus thought at that time, I'll come back and let you see what you let go.  Sometime we dismiss so many people and ideas because they don't meet up with what we think is the best in our minds.  Let's let the Holy Spirit control our lives for a change.
Another wonderful place is Nazareth Village.  It is a re-creation of a first century village.
 It is located in the middle of Nazareth and has a hospital above and houses all around.  The site was accidentally saved from construction and now is a great place to understand the life at that time and also the scripture references. You go through an introduction area and then outside.  The first place is the winnowing floor.  Remember separating wheat from chaff?  

Then to the shepherd pen with the gate.  

Then to a reproduction of a tomb. Remember the prophecy that the messiah would before but rich in the end.  Jesus was buried by a rich man.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Up the hill from the Annunciation Church is the Church of St. Joseph.

This is the site of the Holy Family's home.  Apparently Mary didn't have to move very far from home.  St. Joseph we know was a carpenter. But in those days that could mean someone in construction, stone work, or building furniture, etc.  that why Jesus used so many references of stones - such as the cornerstone, a house set on a good foundation, etc.  Even old city walls are built on outcroppings of stone.

Underneath the church are remnants of a workshop.  And also a Jewish ritual bath. Also in this level there is an altar that says, "this is where St. Joseph died".  
In the basement of the Rosary Sisters, there is a grave where by tradition says a "Righteous Man" is buried.  In the scriptures, Joseph is referred to as that "Righteous Man" for taking Mary as his wife and being the foster father of Jesus.  Let's give thanks to all those foster parents who have stepped up and being a great parent to their children and let's remember all kids who are in foster care.  May their parents also be righteous. 

Outside is a new shrine to St. Joseph.  Hopefully the video will work.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Nazareth is an interesting town.  It is made up of all Arabs who are Israeli citizens.  The Annunciation happened here to an unmarried Jewish girl.  It's said that she had a premonition of the event at a well in the town.  It's now called Mary's Well.  It's in a Greek Orthodox Church. The church of St. Gabriel.  It was really running today, usually it's just a trickle. Once again it's all about the water.

The Church of the Annunciation was built in the 1970's. It's the largest Catholic church in the Middle East.  In the Lower Church is the grotto of the meeting of Mary and the Archangel Gabriel.  Again Mary was surprised by the angel.  She was in a quiet room before her ritual bath to make her ritually clean again.  Water again.   The inscription says "that the Word was made flesh HERE. The house was a cave home with a wooden front.  The cave was to keep the home cool and warmer in the winter. Since Jesus' conception by the Holy Spirit was in the cave, it has been preserved.

The tile floors give the impression of steps and going down to the grotto, but it's just an optical illusion.  The floor is level.
 I always wondered why if Mary was born in Jerusalem, why did this event happen in Nazareth?  Apparently Nazareth was a new settlement and they needed families to settle there.  Because of the crowded conditions in Jerusalem, Anna and Joachim decided to move their family to Nazareth.  The name Nazareth gets its name from the new shoots that come from an Olive Tree..  Once called again an obscure reference to the new shoots that come from Jesse's stump.

As you go through the busy town of Nazareth, you see all kinds of boys and girls playing.  And in our towns we see boys and girls playing.
As at my baptisms, I often wonder what is in store for the future of these children.  But this also applies to young adults, middle-aged and retirees. If they say yes to God, great things can happen. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It is much easier to do some reflections on the Sea of Galilee than in Jerusalem. 

I first went to Cana today.
 I offered my mass for all the couples whom I've married and those in the future.  I went to one of my favorite quiet spots beside the church. No one had ever gone there in e past. But today it was set up for a mass.  But I finished before the group showed up. 

I started to think at the church, what about the bride? All weddings are all about the bride.  Even Mary was not mentioned you name, only as the woman or mother. Mary's name is not even mentioned in the Gospel of John. Jesus, the drunk disciples, the steward, the staff, the groom, but no mention of the bride.  Jesus could have made 150 gallons of wine.  Below is a ceremonial washing stone jar. There were 6 of them filled with dirty water from washing feet. Kind of reminds you of the Jordan River?

Also what happened on day one and day two? We only hear about day three. John raises many challenges in the story. But makes one great statement. Jesus uses a wedding to be the vehicle for showing that he is the Messiah. Saint Paul calls the church, the bride of Christ. "But I'm speaking of this in reference to Christ and His Church."  

I really feel that all of us are that anonymous Bride. Writing this looking over the Sea of Galilee, water again is the common thread. Our feet and our bodies might be need of washing, but through the Church the best is yet to come.

These photos are from my apartment balcony.  Morning sunrise coming directly at me. Outstanding!

These pictures are at 6:00 in the evening. The first is to the North, where Capernaum, Multiplication of the Loaves and Mt of the Beatitudes are located.


The next is straight across from my balcony.  The mountains now belong to Israel but before they belonged to Syria.  It's all about the water over here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Today was amazing. Went to all the places around The Sea of Galilee where Jesus worked his many miracles. The multiplication of the fish and loaves, where Jesus appeared to the Apostles after the Resurection, where Peter told Jesus that he loved him, where Jesus lived in Capernaum in Peter's house, just being on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, going to the hill of the Beatitudes and reading the rest of Jesus' other moral teachings. Those places are unbelievably wonderful and awe inspiring.  But I had experienced those in the past.

But the new spot that I saw was at Migdal.  This is the home of Mary Magdalene.  They just recently bought land, developed a plan and started building a church.  There is supposed to be a women's center and a multimedia center and other buildings. But then they landed upon an entire village that had been lost for centuries.  They are now excavating inch by inch to rediscover the original Migdal. Many people were working in the extreme heat and humidity.  It got up to 99 today. Construction has stopped until the  archaeologists are finished.  But it looks like the church has been finished. I presume that this church was to be dedicated to Mary Magdalene, but I was wrong. The church is dedicated to the apostles.  Being out in the arid country of Israel, you do not expect the use of water in a building. But they have used it in a very special way.   As you look to the front of the church you see a boat.  It almost looks like it's floating on water, with the Sea of Galilee behind it. The boat is the altar, the mast is the cross, the sail is the symbol of the Resurrection.  The tabernacle is off to the side of the boat. Behind the altar is an infinity pool that at a certain angle looks like it stretches all the way to the the Sea of Galilee.

This picture doesn't do the Church justice.

 In the gathering area there are individual chapels.  It's surprisingly beautiful church.  I was actually in awe.  By the windows are beautiful icons of the apostles.  Seeing the use of water,  I finally understand all the symbolism of water in the Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments.  We have to not be able to walk on water but to be baptized, understand our promises, fulfill those promises and be washed clean again and again.  The apostles were called from the water and so are we.  

I was going to offer my mass at Capernaum at my favorite hiding spot right by the sea.  But I was so moved by an altar underneath the Church in an excavation area. That I had to offer it here. I offered it for all those who I will welcome into the church of God in the coming years, whether infants or adults.  
Actually, I had two masses today.  I joined a group from France.  I asked Mon Pere if I could join them for Mass.  Couldn't really figure out the group but they were nice to me.  The priest could not believe that I was here on my own.  I guess that I'm one of the blessed.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Arrived in The Sea of Galilee area.  Found my new apartment without too much difficulty and unpacked. The view from my two balconies are more than I expected.  It was a nice drive through the desert. It's just amazing that when you get to the sea, everything just greens up an it is just beautiful with all the flowers and Palm trees.  

The one spiritual thing that I did was to go what is possibly the site of the Baptism of Christ. This area has more of a tradition than any other site.  It has been used for centuries as the place to baptize the Palestinian Christians on the feast of The Baptism of Christ in January right after Christmas.  The site was just recently opened to visitors although it was always         opened for baptisms once a year.  It's still guarded by military and there are land mines if you get off the road.  That's because the country Jordan is right across the river. There are guards preventing from people crossing. There are centuries old churches there on both sides of the river.  When I arrived there was a group just finishing them baptisms or renewing their vows and an African group renewing their vows. For most people this not the Jordan river that they envisioned.  The Jordan river is really a creek and full of silt from the desert.  It's getting ready to go into the Dead Sea not too far away.  But this is probably the site that Jesus would have wanted for John to baptize him.  Away in the desert, away from the crowds, among the reeds.  Very fitting for him to be with poor of the country.  

There was an outstanding event that was not carried by the media when Pope Francis came to this site when he visited the Holy Land. He approached from the Jordan side.  He came in a golf cart chauffeured by King Abdullah with Francis sitting next to him.  The king and the pope coming together to the place where Jesus was baptized. Amazing that two leaders of the world just driving around and hanging out. One Catholic, the othe Muslim.  Amazing. Christ eventually brings people together. 

Here is a photo of the site that I love. 
I had Mass there and offered it for my Godparents, Alma and Francis and my parents who brought me to the faith.  Also I included all those that I have baptized in my ministry.

The next is the usual site that tourists are taken.  It's actually a lake that is clean and the water is colored. To make it look better. It's actually a Jewish Kibbutz.  You enter and exit through a gift shop.
 Which one do you think Christ would have preferred?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Today I'm starting my last walk through Jerusalem. Since I walked through the Kidron Valley I'm going to start my journey today at the Last Supper room. Then I went to the steps where Jesus walked back-and-forth to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Yesterday while in the Kidron Valley, I walked past the Prophets tombs.  Jesus had to have gone past these tombs at least three times thinking about his own impending death.  

Caiaphas' home or now the Church of St. Peter in Galicantu (rooster crowing in French).  It is nice quiet place for reflection. This place has a great overlook of East Jerusalem. I had mass here again because it is nice and private.  And then went to the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter and ended up in the Armenian Quarter.   

Then I made my way home. Time to finish my laundry since my next place doesn't have a washing machine. And also to start packing to get ready to leave on Monday morning.  Have to get my rental car, bring my stuff down to the parking garage, check out.  Then hope that I can find my way out of Jerusalem. I want to visit a few places on the way to the Sea of Galilee. The northern area is much more relaxed and you can feel even more the presence of Christ because the area has not developed as in Jerusalem.


I have gotten a few emails asking about my apartment. I'm including a picture of the building.  It is a very modern building.  My apartment was on the 11th floor. If you look at the "hole" in the building, go up the left side to the top of the hole and go over to the next set of double windows. That's my apartment.

Has a great view of the city since it is on the highest hill in the city.

Jerusalem is an interesting and unique city.  The one thing that stands out is the Ultra Conservative sect and its breakdown into many other groups with all their customs.  It seems that everyone is always in a hurry.  Running and pushing to get to the next place.  Then you have the Sabbath when almost everything shuts down.  And this has to be the Cell Phone capital of the world.  You can't walk past three people without one being on a phone.  It's humorous sometimes. What can they possibly be talking about?  On the light rail train, people are either talking to each other or they are on the phone and most have earphones with a receiver on the cord so they can move their hands in gestures.  It is a strange and delightful place that I  hope to return because all of this and all the Christian sites make it the most special place in the world for me.

I'm wrapping up my stay in  Jerusalem. Only two days left here. Today is also the Sabbath.  So the city is very quiet. Hardly any traffic, no buses or trains running. People staying inside or going to the synagogue.  So I decided to go to some of my favorite spots. Since there is no public transportation in the Jewish section, I walked to the Damascus Gate.  That's where the Arab Bus Staion is located.  So I took bus 275 to the top of the Mount of Olives. There is the Ascension Chapel, the Our Father Church. But what I really want to do was walk the Palm Sunday Walk of Christ and the Staions of Christ  It starts with a look out over the Old City and the New City.  I could actually see my apartment in the far distance.  Then I started my walk.  

The walk starts down a long steep hill.  There is a handrail to help along.  

The first stop is where Jesus wept over Jerusalem.  Then you walk past the Russian Orhodox church dedicated to Mary Magdalene.  Then down to then Kidron Valley and up to the Temple Mount.  I came back to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Went to the Rock of the Agony
and had Mass outside the Church in a quiet area of a side garden.  
Then went back to the area where the disciples fell asleep all those times and where Jesus was betrayed by Judas.  Then I followed the path in the Kidron Valley to Caiphas' house where Jesus was taken by force.  Then I backtracked to start the Via Dolorosa.  Went by the church dedicated to the death of Stephen, the first martyr for Christ.  

I went through Stephen's or Lions Gate. Before you begin the stations, you stop at the Church of St. Ann, the birthplace of Mary.  Also the pools of Bethsaida are there. This is area where Jesus cured the man who couldn't get to the pool to be cured because he was too slow.

You wind through the old city, stopping at each station.  Some had their chapels open today, some where closed, but you walk to he stops regardless. The day's business in the shops and restaurants goes on probably just like when Christ carried his cross through the streets. When you get to the fifth station, you start walking up Calvary Hill.  Winding between tourist groups you can spend a few moments in prayer. Then you arrive at the Holy Sepulcher for the last four stations and the 15th, the Resurrection Station. The Franciscans not only have an area for the place where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other women.  They also have a chapel dedicated to the appearance of Jesus to his mother, Mary. It was a long day, but well worth it.  Once again following the path of Jesus.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Today I went to a beautiful town called Abu Ghosh. This is one of the areas that scripture scholars think is Emmaus. There are actually four sites that could be Emmaus. This is the town that most people come to see. There are two churches here. One is called Notre Dame de Alliance and the other is the Crusader church. Both are quite interesting.

The Notre Dame Church's claim to fame is that this is the site where the Ark of the Covenant rested before being taken into Jerusalem by King David in triumphal procession. It rested here during the reigns of King Samuel and King Saul.  It was here anywhere from 20 to 80 years.  The Ark (the Ten Commandments) was lost from the temple during the Babylonian takeover of Jerusalem 2600 years ago. The site is dedicated to Mary because she was the "Ark (or the carrier) of the New Covenant, Jesus. 


The Crusader church was built in the 1100s. It ihas wonderful acoustics because it is all stone.  This church celebrates the Emmaus story.  The account of the two disciples who were walking away from Jerusalem very disappointed because Christ died. They had lost all hope. When Christ came near them, they did not recognize him.  Christ went on to help them understand all the Scriptures. They wanted him to stay but Jesus said he had to go on his Way.  They persuaded him to stay with them at least to share a meal. They finally recognized Christ when he broke the Bread with them.    
     

Since this area was the second place where Christ shared the Eucharist, I had mass here at an outdoor altar by the Notre Dame Church overlooking Jerusalem for all of you.

It really doesn't matter in what town is the Emmaus town, because it is all a state of mind.  We all have our "Emmaus" moments in our lives.  Where we all might have given up hope in ourselves, family or friends.  That's when someone comes to us and helps us in our need.  Gets us out of our doldrums.  We might not recognize Christ but Christ is present to us in those times.  Just like the disciples walking along did not recognize Christ, we are like them. Many times we think of those two disciples as two men walking home. But most people here think that it was a couple, a man and a woman.  So when you feel lost, confused are depressed pick up a Bible and read the Emmaus story and let your hearts be filled with the Fire of the Holy Spirit.       

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Today I decided to go to Tel Aviv. This is the most modern town in Israel.  Most countries consider this as the capital of Israel. Most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv with their consulates in Jerusalem.  But the Israelis say that Jerusalem is their Capitol.

The real reason I went to Tel Aviv was to go to Jaffa.
This is the port of departure of Jonah before he was swallowed by the "big fish". This is the town where Peter brought Tabitha back from the dead and declared that all food was clean because all was created by God.  And departed Israel from here to proclaim Jesus' message to the world.  The two cities lay side by side. Above and below is the church honoring St. Peter.


Picturesque Jaffa, on the Mediterranean Sea is just south of Tel Aviv, it is also where the apostle Peter received a crucial vision that changed his mind about accepting gentiles into the early Christian Church.

Peter was staying in the seaside house of a tanner called Simon and went up on the roof to pray. He fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and a sheet lowered, filled with all sorts of animals, which he was told to eat. When he protested that some of the animals were unclean, a voice told him, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane”.

Realising that “I should not call anyone profane or unclean”, then Peter accepted an invitation to visit a centurion called Cornelius at Caesarea, about 48 kilometres up the coast, and accepted Cornelius as the first gentile to convert to Christianity (Acts 10). Called Joppa in biblical times, Jaffa is one of the oldest port cities on earth.


This the closest that I will get to the Gaza Strip.  It's south of here.  Next week when I go north, I will get close to Syria and also Lebanon.  This region needs another St. Peter to declare again that “I should not call anyone profane or unclean”.  May peace truly return to this region.

But Tel Aviv is the much more modern city.  It looks more like Miami Beach than a city from Israel. It has 8 miles of beach along the Mediterranean Sea.  When you are on the beautiful Promenade, you could be in any modern USA city.      

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I wanted to go to the Temple Mount today but it is closed to non-Muslims because of Ramadan.  So I went to the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) and the Southern wall (there are the original steps that lead to the Temple - Jesus had to also have used these for all his trips into the Temple) and enjoyed the day in the Jewish Quarter.



The Temple Mount is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years. At least four religious traditions are known to have made use of the Temple Mount area: Judaism, Christianity, Roman religion, and Islam. The site is dominated by two monumental structures: the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock (or the Golden Dome - no not the one in South Bend)

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, which regards it as the place where God's divine presence is manifested more than any other place. According to the Talmud, it was from here the world expanded into its present form and where God gathered the dust used to create the first human, Adam. Since at least the first century the site has been associated in Judaism with the location of Abraham's offering of Isaac for sacrifice.  Also, both Jewish Temples stood at the Temple Mount.  According to Jewish tradition and scripture (2 Chronicles 3:1-2), the first temple was built by King Solomon the son of King David in 957 BC and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The second was built in 516 BC and destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 AD.  Afterwards the site remained undeveloped for six centuries, until the Arab conquest. The location is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place Jews turn towards it during prayer. They pray that the Temple will be rebuilt.  2000 years of praying for something.  So you thought you prayed for something.  Get in line behind the Jews.    

Most Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally walking on the area where the Holy of Holies once stood.  It was from the Holy of Holies that the High Priest communicated directly with God. That's why they pray at the Western Wall. Just wanted to show you that I really was there.

Among Sunni Muslims, the Mount is widely considered the third holiest site in Islam. Revered as the Noble Sanctuary and the location of Muhammad's journey to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven.  After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 637 AD, Caliphs commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on the site. The Dome was completed in 692 CE, making it one of the oldest Islamic structures in the world, after Mecca. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Temple previously stood.

In light of the claims of both Judaism and Islam, it is one of the most contested religious sites in the world. Since the Crusades (1100's), the Muslim community of Jerusalem has managed the site. In an attempt to keep the status quo, the Israeli government enforces a ban on prayer by non-Muslims. So the Jews pray before the wall at the level where Solomon first built the temple to house the Ark of the Covenant.  Once again, what a shame that all religions can't get along.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Today I went back to the desert to see one of King David's places in Israel. David is one of the great people in history.  He was the 8th son of Jesse. He was the least favorite of the sons.  He was sent out to the fields with the sheep most of the time. He was isolated which gave him much time to think.

God picked him to be anointed King.  The Prophet refused to anoint him as King.  God intervened.  He then went into the army. He slew Goliath after no one else would step forward.  Became general, won many battles. Saul became jealous. David fled into the desert by the Dead Sea.  What is now called Ein Gedi. That's where I went today.  David knew where to hide and where to find water.  There are streams that still appear in the middle of nowhere and then disappear.  There are even small water falls and you are able to swim in the fresh water.  
Since he knew where to water his sheep, he thrived in the desert. When Saul died he returned and became King.

He was a great leader.  Even though loved by the people, his son rebelled against him.  David fled.  He let a Absalom take over but he died in battle. Some say that he was killed by his own army.  David grieved over his death.

David was  also a sinner. He sent Uriah into battle.  Many times he saw Bathsheba doing her ritual cleansing from his roof.  Fell in love with her and had relations with her.    Although the Talmud (the interpretation of the Torah) says that he did nothing wrong because when men went into battle, they were immediately given a divorce (interesting concept). For this act he was punished by not being able to build the temple, a worthy house for the Lord.  But he raised the money to build it later. Although he brought the Ark of the covenant into Jerusalem.

Even though he sinned, he never lost faith in God.  He believed in the forgiveness of God.

It is said that he was the "great singer of Israel". In the morning he would wake and read the Torah and sing a reflection on what he had written. Those are the psalms that we have today. Not only do we Christians pray those at mass, in the divine office, in the bible, the Jewish faith also prays them.

Since he was the great King, the messiah would come from his lineage.  We know that Jesus is that messiah. The Jewish faith is still waiting for the great messiah to come to free them from their sins and oppression.

We know that we have been freed from our sins by our Savior and Messiah, Jesus Christ.  As David never lost faith in God, may we never lose faith in God the father, Jesus the Son
and the Holy Spirit.

Monday, July 6, 2015

As soon as you leave the city limits of Jerusalem, you're in the desert. The Judean desert is a desolate place although the Bedouins seem to make a living. You go by there shacks with their sheep and livestock grazing on dirt.  Goat milk and cheese and weaving rugs is hard way to make a living.  But then you will see a satellite dish.
They run a generator at night to watch television.

Keep driving through the desert and you see the Dead Sea.  You go as they say 250 m (820 feet) below sea level.  All at once you arrive at Jericho. It is an oasis. There are flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables, palm trees and dates.
This is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It is 10,500 years old. It is also the first of the land that this is making up the Palestinian Area.

In Christianity, Jericho is known for a number of things.  First of all,  Zacchaeus and the Sycamore  Tree.  This is a grand-daughter of the original.
He is wanting to see Jesus but since  Zacchaeus  was so short he had to climb a tree. Just saw him and told him to come now.   Zacchaeus changed his ways and became a follower of Jesus.

Also the prophet Elisha came to Jericho. The first time he came there was well they have water that was undrinkable, too salty.   Elisha took a handful of salt and threw it in the well. The water became usable after that. The water had changed.  The well is still one of the five springs in Jericho.

Also Jesus came to Jericho. He came here to fast for 40 days and 40 nights. During that time, he was tempted. He withstood those temptations. He changed into his public life.

And we all know the song, "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down". They have dug through 23 civilizations and have not found the the walls yet.  But God does inspire folklore also.

The town is all Arabs and Christians.  There is a Catholic Church named the Good Shepherd with a school. The School teaches both Christians and Muslims.  This is a change also.  We don't  have to go to Jericho to change.  God always gives us the grace to do that and more.