LuzDelMes Experience in Israel
✞Wednesday, April 27, Day 3: INTO THE LAND OF THE BIBLE - OLD CITY “CHRISTIAN AND JEWISH SHRINES” -
This morning we visited the Church of St. Anne built on the site of the birthplace of the Virgin Mary and in honor of her parents: Joachim and Anne. It is located just north of the Temple Mount, about 50 metres inside St. Stephen’s or Lions’ Gate. The church stands in a courtyard with trees, shrubs and flowers. Its tranquility contrasts with the bustling alleys of the Muslim Quarter.
According to the story, Joachim and Anne keep their promise to deliver their daughter Mary into the service of the temple at the age of three. In this way we learned how Mary is prepared for her unique life of purity and grace.
Next to the church is the large excavation area near the Sheep Gate where there is a pool in Arameic called "Bethesda." Beth hesda means “house of mercy” or “house of grace.” In Hebrew and Aramaic it could also mean “shame” or “disgrace.”
The Gospel of John describes the pools as having five porticoes. The pool has an extreme depth of 13 meters. This is the place where Jesus healed the paralytic. (John 5:1-17).
I walked into the ruins and reflected on the moment this man was healed, it must be an amazing moment for him after he had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
Later, we visited the Temple area, the spot where the original temple was built and which was the scene of many episodes from the life of Christ, such as the expulsion of the money changers from the temple. (Matthew 21:12)
We prayed at the Western Wall, also known as the “Wailing Wall” of the Temple, which is the most sacred spot in the world for the Jews. There is an area for men and women to pray because the Torah scrolls at the Western Wall are normally stored in the men's section, which women are forbidden from entering according to the 613 Jewish laws and ordinances.
I was moved by the cries of the women in front of the wall. I left my family names on the wall and sat down to pray… I was so blessed to have my savior and redeemer, to believe in Jesus.
In the afternoon, we entered the National Museum, the Shrine of the Book. This is believed the site to be the actual resting place of King David. It occupies the ground floor of the Cenacle, the "Upper Room" traditionally identified as the place of Jesus' Last Supper and the original meeting place of the early Christian community.
Then, we continued to Mount Zion and visited the “Upper Room “where the “Last Supper” took place. (Matthew 26:17 -29; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7-38; and the Apostles received Pentecost and the first Christian Community was born. (Acts 1-2)
I expected more of this place but I understand after so many destructions and battles, this must have been the first target to destroy the place of the Apostles gathered together.
Then, we celebrated Mass at the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu built on the site of the house of Caiaphas, which encloses the dungeon where Christ was kept on Holy Thursday night (John 18) and where Peter denied Christ thrice (Luke 22:54-62).
Expect more about it! My pilgrimage experience began at home.
Maritza Martinez Mejia
Mother, Educator, Bilingual Author and Translator
Member: FWA, MCBD Board of Advisors, ANLMI,
International Read to Me! Day Ambassador.
Received Crystal Apple Award, VCB Poetry Award, Latino Book Awards 2016 & Author’s Talk