I arrived at the Passionist house of St Martha in Bethany, late this morning. Here’s where I am in gospel terms: “When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, ‘ The master has need of them. Then he will send them at once.”
(Mark 21, 1-9)
The gospel continues that the disciples did this and a large crowd welcomed him, some spreading their cloaks on the road, others cutting branches to strew before him.
“The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
So here’s where Jesus started his Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem. He knew this place well, must have been a place where they believed in him. In Bethany he was accepted, at least as “Son of David.”
As I traveled here, courtesy of Catholic Travel, the streets to Bethphage were crowded with Muslims getting ready for their major feast of Eid-Ul_Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, celebrated for the next several days at the conclusion of the Hajj. The sacrifice celebrated is the Sacrifice by Abraham of his first born son Ishmael. It’s a joyful feast that calls Muslims to a spiritual awakening. Cf. http://www.religioustolerance.org/isl_feast.htm
We know too little about Muslims and their spirituality. The website cited above quotes an western newspaper account some years ago warning of terrorist attacks at the conclusion of this feast. It’s like predicting Christian terror attacks after our easter celebrations. The feast actually calls for forgiveness of enemies and peace with your neighbor. Presents given out and food for everyone, especially the poor.
You could hear a special call to celebration in the muzzim’s call this evening to this Muslim neighborhood.
Our visitors from St. Marys all got off safe from the hotel early this morning; now they are winging their way home.