We started out this morning in the Mount of Olives and walked down from the top to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jeff Cavins gave an incredible lecture this morning on the meaning of suffering… which was poignant since so many of us (myself included) were complaining about the freezing temperatures.
The basis of Jeff’s lecture is:
- If your suffering has no meaning you will despair.
- When you find a purpose for your suffering you can withstand anything.
- The reward of suffering is sharing in the glory. The value of your suffering is that it is tied to Christ so that you might come to know the Love of God.
“Suffering is redemptive if you do it in Christ, it becomes immeasurably powerful.”
-John Paul II
Whatever you are going through in your life, God has given meaning to your suffering thanks to the ultimate suffering of Christ.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, there is a Church built over the Rock of Agony. This is the rock Jesus went to pray on when He left his disciples to keep watch the night He was betrayed by Judas. The Church has incredibly dark tinted windows to remind visitors that this is the place Jesus experienced incredible suffering – to the point of sweating blood.
We got to experience Mass in this holy place and spend time in reflection on Christ’s sacrifice for us.
After Mass we traveled into the Ancient City of Jerusalem to the Church of St. Anne. This Church is believed to have been built over the home that Mary was born in.
Outside the Church is the Fountains of Bethesda where Jesus healed the crippled man on Shabbat, or Sabbath.
We walked along the outside of the City of Jerusalem to the Southern Gate. This Gate used to serve as the entrance to the Temple of Solomon, but has been blocked up by the Muslim Turks when they controlled Israel.
While sitting on the steps of the Temple, we heard the Muslim call to prayer and then had another teaching by Jeff Cavins on Jesus’ time spent on these same steps. This teaching Jeff explained that shame tries to identify you and that Jesus used shame to stop the persecutors who brought the woman caught in prostitution to Him. He said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” while writing in the sand. Jeff claims that Jesus must have been writing the names of the persecutors in the sand in reference to Jeremiah 17:13.
Christianity, if properly understood is about redemption of the whole person.
After this lesson, we went to the Western Wall, also known as The Wailing Wall. We were separated, men and women, and traveled down to the wall to spend time in prayer with God and leave our petitions or prayers in the wall. It was amazing to watch the devout Jewish people spend time in prayer at the wall.