Renewing Baptismal Vows at the Jordan River

We started the day at Dalmanutha. It is the place where Jesus multiplied the 5 loaves and 2 fish. This is the one aside from the Sermon on the Mount multiplication. We were taught by Fr. Gustilo that everything is GIFT. Our life is a gift. We were born because we have a purpose. If we had no purpose, then we would not have been born. We shouldn’t forget that God wants us on this earth for a reason. 🙂

We had Mass there as well. Then drove to the “Other Side”. Jesus mentions that he goes to the other side, and now that other side is the Golan Heights. Formerly part of Syria, now part of Israel. We passed the spot where Jesus drove out Legion into the pigs and into the Sea of Galilee.

Then we crossed the Jordan river. It is so thin! Not wide at all. You can practically jump across. We got to the renewal of Baptismal vows site. It wasn’t the original site of John the Baptist and Jesus because that was nearer to the Dead Sea, and the water is too rough there now.

What an experience. The water was cold. The “skirt” they gave us was thin. But again, I was reminded of my being a gift. Not only as part of the earth, but as part of the Catholic world. I am a gift, and I have a purpose.

After that, we drove through the Judean desert. Saw the Bedouin tribes along the way. And stopped over a place where you could see the Mount of Temptation – where Jesus was tempted. It was SO HOT. I got dizzy afterwards. I wonder how Jesus managed to go through 40 days and even decline the temptations of the devil. It was really hot.

We got to Jericho, which is part of the Palestinian Authority now. It is outside of Israel and Israeli Jews aren’t allowed to enter. Just like Bethlehem. Isn’t that sad? I think the conflicts within religions and groups is really sad. We all want the same thing. Salvation for all. So sad to see people banning and suing others from using names, and all that.

The day wasn’t over yet. Though I admit, I was really exhausted by this time. We had two more stops. We went up to Jerusalem (saw the 18 foot wall they put up to separate the Palestinian Authority area) and straight to Ein Karem. The place of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. It is so interesting really to imagine the travel time it took people from one place to the other. It is so easy now, via bus. But still with the heat, tiring. Can you imagine how it was 2,000 years ago?

Mary and Elizabeth both had gifts. Babies. And these gifts became gifts to others. We are also gifts. And we should NEVER EVER forget that.

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