BY CHRISTINE HOGAN
Have you ever wondered how Jesus managed to keep his cool almost all the time? And about the time most famously when he lost it?
As I stood on the steps up to Temple Mount yesterday and looked to where the Royal portico remained in evidence – now just the edge of a stone door frame cannibalised by part of the Ottoman Wall remains – that thought did occur to me.
Here we were, the CathNews pilgrim group, at the foot of the massive steps Jesus took up to the Temple... And up there, in the portico, he turned over the tables of the money changers.
Of course he could have become angry... He was after all, like us fully human, as well as fully divine. He was outraged and angered by injustice and suffering and cruelty, but the Gospel shows us how he turns those negative emotions into love and kindness, compassion and generosity of spirit. I thought about the woman at the well, a village pariah, and his non-judgmental interaction with her, his acceptance and his final imperative to her.
My reflection on his relative lack of anger was interrupted as someone stepped into my shot. My crankiness pulled me up short and made me feel extremely petty. I turned away, and saw in the near foreground the contours of the Kidron Valley, as he would have seen them, and the Mount of Olives on the other side of the valley. In the deep background, the hills of Jordan, on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, stretched away purple to the north and south.
Yesterday was our day in Jewish Jerusalem. We started with a lecture from our tour historian, Dr Brian Brennan, on the archaeology of the Temple Mount – and what that archaeology has meant to observant as well as secular Jews in modern times.
And boy is there some archaeology here. There had been human habitation in this place from the times of the Jebusites, and over the millennia the detritus and shards of the lives of different peoples and cultures and power structures have built up and crumbled and now fill the valleys.
Our guide Lauren took us up on to the flat rooftops of the city, at a point where the four quarters are visible... To the left, the domes of the Holy Sepulchre and the spire of the Lutheran church...ahead the golden Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque, over on the far ridge, the needle-steeple of the Church of the Ascension.
We went into the Jewish Quarter for lunch, and discovered a pretty, leafy, rebuilt urban environment and did a bit of serious people watching. A sultry girl who could have given Pippa Middleton a run for her money sashayed through the square, passing young modestly dressed young Orthodox mothers, their children in tow and another in their swelling bellies, who took the passage a little more quietly.
No one turned a hair at the differences in religious expression, or its secular counterpart. It was a reminder that there are many different ways in which to be human.
Walking down from the rebuilt Jewish quarter, we ended up for an hour in the city's archaeological park. What an amazing thing that is, tucked under the soaring walls of Temple Mount.
By then it was peak hour and time to get on the bus home to Notre Dame. But as we were getting on board, something wonderful... A bride, in her white dress, was posing for photos. She had come from Haifa to the Western Wall to pray on her wedding day, and was going back to Haifa that night for the ceremony.
But she was there, connecting to her past, her people on this, the most important day of her life. And in doing so, she connected us all in our common humanity... Both flawed and imperfect, but both redeemable and redeemed. That was quite a lot to get out of a visit to a stone stair case, I think.
Christine Hogan is the Publisher for the faith-based publications produced by Church Resources, and moderates the discussion boards of CathNews. She is currently on the CathNews Pilgrimage to the Holy Land and is blogging regularly for the duration of the journey.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.