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We reached Jerusalem at 15:00 hours. Jerusalem is known as a holy city in the world. It is the birthplace of three different religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity) in the world. Jerusalem has been sacred to Judaism for roughly 3000 years, to Christianity for around 2000 years, and to Islam for approximately 1400 years. The 2000 Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem lists 1204 synagogues, 158 churches, and 73 mosques within the city. Israel is ancient yet among the most developed country in the world.
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Mount of Olives
If there is one city in the world that you have to see as a whole, it is Jerusalem. While you are on the ground, going from one quarter to another, it may seem like you are in different cities at one time. No two areas of Jerusalem look the same. The Mount of Olives, the highest point of the city is where you will see Jerusalem as a whole, as one city. It almost feels like a puzzle with different aspects joining together, and the view will help you respect the rich diversity of the place. The mountain is adjacent to the old city and is named after Olive groves, that once covered the area. The mountain also has a 3000 year old Jewish Cemetery and is of much significance to the Christians as many of Jesus' life events mention this place, including his ascension to Heaven.
Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross)
We went from here to walk the Via Dolorosa. The street was bustling with people, probably not unlike in the time of Christ. However now there are also cars and motorbikes and carts and bicycles weaving their way through the narrow streets. We sang and prayed at each of the stations. For some in our group walking is a difficulty, a real cross, but they stayed the course, a sign of their faith. We ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the Crusader Church at the site of the empty tomb. That empty tomb is the foundation of our faith and the blessed assurance that death does not prevail but is life in the risen Christ. The Sepulchre church is divided into different sections, each directed by one of the Christian faiths.We all climbed the steep staircase to Golgotha where Christ was crucified with prayer on our lips and faith in our hearts. I was moved to see the faith of our people at Mass in the empty tomb and on Golgotha. The day ended with a very powerful experience of the life of Christ. Each station of the cross passing through the Via Dolorosa was a witness to how much Christ loves us. It is a feeling never to be forgotten in a lifetime.The week has been very powerful for all of us, seeing and hearing so many things. We have walked the Way with Christ and, hopefully, have grown in our love for all that Christ did for us. The Scriptures will never be the same for us. We have seen what they describe in the scriptures.It was our last day and as we were leaving the mountain pathways of Jerusalem for Jordan, the Gospels were coming to life as we traveled and learned about the Holy Land. It is truly a blessing to travel the walk of Christ and feel and sense His message to all ages.
Although it was a very short trip, it's experience will always remain in my heart . This was one of the most peaceful place among the places that i 'd visited so far.May be one day the whole world will realise that too.In my next blog on this place, i would bring to you more information about the kind of stay, how to get there and so on and so forth.
Garden of Gethsemane
Further down the hill we celebrated Mass at the Church of all nations –garden of Gethsemane. The church is surrounded by magnificent olive trees, some as old, perhaps, as 2,000 years. If only they could talk and bring us back in time when the Lord suffered alone with His apostle’s asleep. At the end of the Mass, each person knelt before the stone where Jesus experienced His agony. As each person touched the stone, you could see vividly their faith and their desire to understand just a little better all that Christ did for us out of love. After the mass we headed towards the Wailing Wall the most sacred site for the Jews , a place of high emotion and prayer. After lunch we visited the Church of the Birth of John the Baptist at Ein Karem (Vinyard Spring) .Our final stop was the Church of the Visitation. Mary walked all the way from Nazareth -- about 90 miles -- to be with Elizabeth. That distance gives us an inkling of Mary's charity and concern for others. My prayer is that we can each have a share of Mary's love in our love for others. We concluded our visit to the church by praying the Angelus.Day five started with visiting Bethany village. This village was the home of Jesus’ friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus and is situated on the far side of the Mount of Olives. We celebrated mass t the chapel and prayed to be always faithful to Christ just as his friends were to him. We then climbed down to Lazarus’ Tomb there were steep steps leading down to the rock chamber and it gives a good idea of what a tomb of the time would have looked like.