By Bro. Dr. Ricardo Quinto Binsol, GI 18
When I registered for the pilgrimage trip, I never expected a life-changing experience. Or a holy rebirth of myself. I walked in with the excitement of seeing, and feeling, the place where Jesus once walked and shared meals with his disciples.
Although I never felt an overwhelming presence of the spirit of Christ during my visit, I came out with a better understanding of Christ’s teaching.
Let me explain.
You see, during every stop at a certain Holy place, I noticed quite an obvious regularity. Not uniformly consistent, but regular. There were stories about men, palaces, places of worship and ancient cultures. Yet throughout each and every story, there is a constant association with destruction, burning… and death. And I started wondering how those peoples of yesterday somehow correlate with the people of today. And this is what enlightened me.
I have watched the varied people around me. There were Israelis, Armenians, Moroccans, Yemenis, Ethiopians, Lebanese, Greeks and Palestinians. Muslims, Jews and Christians. I saw Palestinian kids playing with rotten tomatoes and riding their bikes like I used to do when I was a young, lanky child.
All in all, I realized that we are but one people. Hoping for harmony, peace and unity. Of a world with no wars, no death, no destruction. Of course, this doesn’t seem to be attainable.
When you realized that one section of Jerusalem is forbidden for other religious believers to enter, you realize that something is still very real. That, we, humans, are the real problems. We will use religion, ideology or simple cultural insensitivity to separate other people from our view of what is right. And, in so doing, use these as an excuse to create more wars and destruction.
Since the City of Jerusalem was destroyed and rebuilt 18 times, it is a simple lesson to see what history is trying to teach us. That our Lord Jesus Christ’s teachings about love, peace and harmony between all peoples are somehow lost in every transition of power among nations.
In knowing this, you may begin to realize that the spirituality and solemn lessons from the Holy sites are not found in the rock formations of Bethlehem, the waters from the Sea of Galilee or the palaces of Jerusalem. It is instilled in the heart of every young child in Israel and the West Bank whose only wish is to have peace and harmony and not have wars and destruction.
And yes, I think our Lord Jesus Christ would love to see that happen. Especially, in the place where his worn sandals once stepped and wandered.
Oftentimes, I wonder, isn’t our Lord’s sacrifice and teachings enough to make us live together as one chosen people? As brothers and sisters under the same God?