Living by the Wall

The tomb of Lazarus is only down the road from here, but unfortunately I’m blocked from getting there by the Israeli security wall at the end of our street. Instead of a few minutes walk, I can get there only by traveling a good distance around the Mount of Olives.

The security wall winds through our property and the property of the Camboni sisters, an Italian order who have a school and a hostel next to us. As they look out their back  window, it looms over them, about twenty feet away, and it goes on as far as the eye can see.

I have been celebrating morning Mass these days for the sisters–in Italian– and they told me the wall has stopped many children, all Muslim, from coming to their school.  Relations between Christians and Muslims in this neighborhood have always been good, thanks to the good works of these religious women.

If the Israelis want peace, it would be better to tear down the wall and sponsor some schools and clinics like those run by the sisters. A high barbed wire wall, patrolled by armed soldiers, blocking streets people have been using for centuries, running through the backyards of ordinary peoples’ homes, stopping the flow of business, doesn’t win you friends.

It makes enemies.

This afternoon Fr. Roberto drove me to the city where I made my way to the Via Dolorosa again, which was more crowded than ever with groups praying and groups shopping and gawking.

I did discover an Armenian church at the 4th Station that was an oasis in Babel. The church has some paintings of the 3rd and 4th stations. Jesus meets his mother at the 4th station. In the quiet courtyard before the church a mother was nursing her infant. In the church was a picture over the altar of Mary nursing her child.

The day ended at the Latin Patriarchate where Sir Patrick Allen, Knight of the Holy Sepulcher from  Union City, NJ, met Bishop Shomali, who was born in Bethlehem, to receive an award for bringing over 100 people to the Holy Land on pilgrimage. I was a photographer and guest, and the bishop even said some nice things about the Passionists.

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