Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Holy Land Pilgrimage Day 66

Today was supposed to be an all-day excursion to various Old Testament sites. However, we woke up to absolutely pouring rain. Not to be deterred, we ventured out anyway. Our first stop was at the tomb of the prophet Samuel. Our guide was quick to point out that this was definitely not the tomb of Samuel. Despite this, we did get absolutely soaked running across a parking lot to see an empty cenotaph commemorating the prophet Samuel. OK, here I have to admit that it was totally not worth it. Ironically, the place where Samuel’s fake tomb is located is on a mountain called “Mount Joy.” It is so named because this is where the crusaders were first able to see Jerusalem. There was no joy there today as we could barely see our bus across the parking lot because of all the rain. We conferred when we got back on the bus and pretty much all agreed that this was ridiculous. So, we decided to scrap the rest of the itinerary and just head to the church where we supposed to have Mass.

Samuel Cenotaph
The Cenotaph of Samuel

We had Mass in the town of Abu Gosh at a church connected with a convent of French Benedictines. This church is located on a location where the Arc of the Covenant was kept before it came to Jerusalem. It is also the place that is believed to be the long lost town of Emmaus from the New Testament. I really enjoyed the liturgy which was all chanted from the traditional chant book of our Roman rite. After Mass and lunch it had stopped raining a little bit, so we decided to venture to one more place. When David was moving the Arc of the Covenant to its new home in Jerusalem, the Arc stayed for three months at a certain location. Today there is a church dedicated to Mary, Arc of the New Covenant. You might recall that the original Arc of the Covenant contained the tablets of the 10 commandments as well as some of the manna bread the Israelites ate in the wilderness. Mary, as the Arc of the New Covenant carried within her womb not the word of God on stone, but the Word of God in flesh and not manna, but the Bread of Life. You might also recall that Mary went and stayed three months in the hill country with Elizabeth just like the Arc stayed in the hill country for three months. Mary is therefore rightly honored with the title Arc of the New Covenant. The rain was picking up again now so much that the church was leaking, so we knew it was time to head for home. We’re kind of worn out from pilgrimage anyway, so no one really objected to cutting the day short.

Abu Gosh Church
The Church at Abu Gosh, Emmaus?

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