The last shall be first.
Because of our flight arrangements, we will be missing the last day of the pilgrimage and will be going home to Manila. So Fr. G decided to bring us to the last day itinerary, on the first day.
The breakfast at Gilgal Hotel was weird. Just raw fish, some cheese and bread. And we found out why. Apparently, they don’t serve “living” food with “dead” food. Because that makes the food unclean. Cheese is living because it comes from a living cow. And meat, obviously, is dead. So even in burgers, they don’t have cheese. We ate in McDonald’s and the burgers don’t have cheese. How weirdly awesome is that? They even have separate sinks and drainage for both kinds of food.
We made our way to Emmaus. That’s where the two disciples of Jesus were walking coming from Jerusalem. Jesus walked with them and their eyes were opened after he broke the bread with them. Emmaus is 2 hours away from Tel Aviv, but only a few KM away from Jerusalem. I never imagined Israel to be so big. From the news and TV, you’d think it was a small place. But we’ve been traveling hours by bus, and there is empty space and tracts of land everywhere.
In Emmaus, there is a Church built on the supposed spot where Jesus and the two disciples broke bread. From the Church (with frescoes on the wall, though eyes scratched out by Muslim conquerers of old), you take a staircase down to a small Chapel with an old baptismal font. There is where we read the reading about Emmaus. And where our hearts not burning as we did so?
Wow, to be where Jesus appeared to people who decided to not believe anymore. Aren’t we like that sometimes? We know the truth, yet we choose not to believe. And Jesus walks with us, until our eyes are opened and our hearts burn with the truth. I still can’t fathom that I am actually here.
After Emmaus we went up the mountain to where the home of Abimilek (spelling?) used to be. Abimelek was tasked to house the Ark of the Covenant. He got rich and so King David took the Ark for himself. In the Church there is a small rock at the corner which is part of the home of Abimelek. The last remaining part of that home. Needless to say, I touched it. Thousands of years old, and you never know, maybe even King David or the Ark itself rested upon it.
Of course, the new Ark is Mary who carried the Good News in her womb. The new commandment of love. But it was good to go back to the Old Testament and just be there. Des even sang in the Church in honor of Mary, the new Ark.
Afterwards we made our way back to Tel Aviv, joined the rest of the pilgrims, and made our way to Tiberius. About 3 hours away. We are at Hotel Restal along the Sea of Galilee. So close to more places where Jesu Himself walked. I am blessed.