We traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem. The routes have not altered much since the time of Jesus. One can either take the high road along the mountains through ancient Samaria, which is present-day Nablus, or the low road through the Jordan River Valley to Jericho. We took the low road.
Our first stop in Jericho was Saint Maria Catholic school. Sister Eugenia met us and kindly let us to the school chapel where Bishop Zubik presided at Mass. We learned that of the 430 students enrolled in St Maria School, only five were Catholic.
Saint Maria's School in Gerico
Helene with Sister Eugenia of St. Maria Catholic School
Bishop Zubik presides over Mass
We read in Luke's Gospel chapter 8 verse 35-43 about Jesus' healing the blind beggar Bartimaeus in Jericho who called out to him, "son of David have pity on me."
We also read the story of the tax collector Zacchaeus in Luke 19.
While Jericho we also were able to see the ancient ruins and encounter local livestock:
Posing with a local camel
Further south from Jericho we explored Qumran, where The dead sea scrolls were found in the cave by a shepherd boy. Doing the first century, Qumran was the home of a Jewish sect called the Essenes.
Ancient ruins of Jericho
Cave in Qunram where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered
Group shot at Qunram
We meditated on the parable of the Good Samaritan as we made our way past Bedouin encampments. Who is my neighbor and how do I love them? Jesus teaches us that it is through costly demonstrations of unexpected love.
Stay tuned: Tomorrow, we like Mary, set out in haste and boldly go. Ein Karem is on the itinerary.