October 18, 2013: JERUSALEM – EMMAUS – QUMRAN – DEAD SEA – JERUSALEM
Our breakfast was at 7AM and then headed for Ascension Chapel in the top of Mount of Olives at 8:15AM which, according to tradition, Jesus ascended into heaven: “When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight,” (Acts 1:9). We prayed at the Ascension Chapel for 5 minutes. The Mount of Olives is a sacred place for both Jews and Christians: “Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives,” (Matt. 26:30). On a rock inside can be seen a footprint which is identified, according to Christian tradition, as the print that Jesus left as he ascended into heaven. Afterwards, at around 9am, we proceeded to Abu Gosh for our 10am Mass.
Abu Gosh (Emmaus) is an Arab town in Israel, located 10 kilometers west of Jerusalem, that is, situated halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is marked by the ruins of a 12th-Century church. Jesus appeared before two of his followers in Emmaus after His resurrection: After his resurrection, Jesus joined two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus: “Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven milesfrom Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” (Lk. 24:13-16).
We arrived in Emmaus at around 9:32AM for our 10AM Mass at the Church of Resurrection, Abu Gosh. The Mass started at 10:04AM which was also the Feast of St. Luke. Fr. Ruben Oceno was the presider and homilist. He started by citing 3 Rs (Rest, Recharge, Reflect) on the first day Mass of the pilgrimage in Mount Nebo. He made mentioned about CSG – Come, Stay, and Go which is the pattern of discipleship- “come follow me.” Not all have the privilege to step on this holy ground. The call of Jesus to be with him is to stay with him. “O come all ye faithful is the joy to be with him.” Its nice to be here but Jesus answered: “No, go back to the Philippines.”
After the Mass we left the Church of the Resurrection in Emmaus, Abu Gosh (to fight) bound for Qumran for our lunch and arrived there at around 11:12AM. After our lunch, we shopped at the souvenir shop of the restaurant and then toured around the Qumran Park old community where Qumran manuscripts discovered and are enshrined now at Israel’s Museum.
Qumran is one of the most striking archeological sites in the world and home to the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered last 1947. This place is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank.
After our tour at Qumran Park, we headed to Dead Sea where the seawater is 35% salt. Dead Sea, which is also called Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Israel and the West Bank to the west, and Jordan to the east. Its surface and shores are 422 meters (1,3385 ft) below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth’s surface on dry land. The Dead Sea is 378m (1,240 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. The Dead Sea is 67 kilometers (42 mi) long and 18 kilometers (11mi) wide at its widest point. It lies at the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River. In the Bible the Dead Sea is called the Salt Sea, the Sea of the Arabah, and the Eastern Sea. The designation “Dead Sea” is a modern name, which never appears in the Bible.
The mineral content of the water, the very low content of pollens and other allergens in the atmosphere, the reduced ultraviolet component solar radiation, and the higher atmospheric pressure at this great depth each have specific health effects.
We were instructed to swim on our back and not on our breast. It is too salty that no living organism can thrive in it and we could literally float without any effort. The black mud can heal one’s skin problems. We took a dip in the water before we proceeded to Jerusalem for our final pilgrimage site, the Western (Wailing) Wall where Jews all over the world gather to commemorate the destruction of the first and second temple and pray for Israel’s restoration.
The Western (Wailing) Wall is the holiest of Jewish religious spot in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is called so because, for centuries, the Jewish people have gathered on the wall of their Lost Holly Temple after the Romans destroyed it last 70 AD. This Western Wall was built by Herod the King of Judea in 20 BC. It took for 11 years to construct it, according to a Jewish historian, Josephus. During the construction, it rained only during nights so as not to interfere with the workers’ progress.
At almost 4PM, we drove to Western (Wailing) Wall and arrived there at almost 5PM; entered into the gate and instructed to bring only our cameras because there would be inspection and laser-machine scanning. We went to Western Wall and have a short prayer and petition wearing a skull cap; entered a synagogue and then went back to the Commodore Hotel in Jerusalem. Dinner at 6:30PM and then rest and sleep.
Executive Resources, Inc.: “An Invitation to Join Pilgrimage to Jordan and the Holy Land plus Dubai” – Manila
Executive Resources, Inc.: “Scriptural Readings to the Land Where Jesus Walked” – Manila
Qassem Company: “Our Tour to the Holy Land” – Old City, Jerusalem
Vered Hasharon Travel and Tours: “Personal Holy Land Travelogue” – Jerusalem
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