Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Day 3 - Bethlehem

We crossed into Palestinian territory to visit Bethlehem. We first visited Beit Sahour (Fields of the Shepherds) where we celebrated mass. After mass we had an opportunity to shop in an olive wood co-operative owned by Palestinian Christian families. We then drove to Manger Square where we visited the Basilica and Grotto of the Nativity arriving just in time to tag onto the Franciscan lunchtime procession. We also visited St. Jerome's Caves. We had lunch at the Shepherd's Valley Restaurant (well a tent really!). After driving back to Jerusalem we visted the church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, the house of Caiphas and the prison in which Our Lord spent his last night on earth.

The Church of the Shepherds - Gloria in excelsis Deo!

In the atrium of the Basilica of the Nativity of Our Lord

The Costantinian floor

We tagged along the daily Franciscan procession, and we went back to sing our own Christmas Carol. This is where He was made man!

Manger Square

Eating in a shepherds tent, while shepherds watched their flocks...

Views from St Peter in Gallicantu - the place of betrayal - can yo see the "wall"?

The Prison of the Lord

The steps on which the Lord walked on on his way to Pilate

Today's homily:

Our God is community. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, co-equal and co-eternal. God experiences life as community, as Trinity. The other word for Trinity is Love. God is Love. The community life of love in the Godhead had to be shared. Mirrored in the community love of husband and wife the perfect love of God is creative.
How good to know that creation, and that includes you and me, is the result of God’s love.
The bonds of love are strong in as much the communication between the beloved is strong. The communication in the Divine life is perfect and is evidenced in the harmony of creation before we made a dog’s breakfast out of it. Communication is of the essence. Many, if not most of the problems result from lack of communication. God has experienced this problem to.
He tried to communicate with our first parents but we know what happened. And this happened again and again; look at the narratives of Noah, Abraham, Moses, the Patriarchs and the many prophets. Because of sin we broke down our communication. God, the ever patient one, never gave up so much so that he gave us the clearest act of communication he could, his only son. God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son! God’s greatest act of communication started here in Bethlehem. God counts on the bonds of love between Him and us, we matter to Him, He sees in us His children in whom He wants to delight.
Whoever you are and whatever you might have done God wants the channels of communication open. Here in this place is the proof. The angels proclaimed glory above and peace here below to shepherds. The first invited are the untouchables, the ones that have to live outside the city of David as they are unclean. They are invited. They were free to ignore, but they accepted. They had a price to pay. They had to cross the threshold of the city where they where unwanted and unwelcome – their discipleship was costly and risky but they did not turn away.
Today, in Bethlehem, God offers us His invite to enter into His bonds of love and communication. The ball is in our court, will we join the shepherds and take the risk and enter into communion with God? Then we shall find true peace. Or is the peace we create better? Shall we answer the call to communion that comes from above? What better place than this can we find to refresh our communication with God.

See below for more pictures:

Holy Land Day 3

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