Let us go to the house of the Lord!

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, built as a city
which is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.

We’ve spent the last few days in the Kingdom of Jordan, exploring the area where the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. The peak of the trip, literally and figuratively, was at the top of Mt. Nebo, where Moses overlooked the land of Israel before he passed from this Earth as recounted in Deuteronomy 34:1-8. Below is the church at the top of the mountain.

Below is the view Moses would have had – albeit less smoggy. One can faintly see the Dead Sea on the left side.

We also visited the site of the Baptism of the Lord. There was an ancient church here with steps leading down into the water, which we can see below.

Unfortunately, the height of the Jordan river has gone down over the years so there isn’t water currently in the place where the Lord is thought to have been baptized. To the left is a mosaic showing how the river flows and how the pool was used as a baptismal site in early Christianity.

We also had a chance to look across the river as it currently flows and see people on the Israeli side commemorating the Baptism of the Lord as well.

After seeing the view that Moses had from atop Mt. Nebo, our appetites were all the more whetted to go to the Holy City. After viewing the baptismal site, we crossed back into Israel and began our ascent towards Jerusalem; as we were driving, we prayed some of the psalms of ascent, one of which is at the beginning of the post.

As a fitting start to our time in Jerusalem, we were able to have Mass at Calvary this morning. Below is a photo of Father Taphorn celebrating at the Catholic/”Latin” altar; the Greek Orthodox altar, in the darkness on the left side of the photo, is above the rock of Golgotha itself. It was beautiful to participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass, the same sacrifice as that of Calvary, just feet from the location where it took place.

-Paul Hedman

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