Monday, November 13, 2017

There are an unprecedented number of people in the Holy Land right now. I have never seen this many people in my 25 years of coming here and the guides and locals are saying they’ve never seen anything like it.

Today in Bethlehem there were loads of groups everywhere. That came from all over the world speaking every imaginable language. It was like nine ending river of people.

We started the day at our favorite Olivewood Store where we gave everybody two hours to enjoy all of the amazing items that were for sale. We helped and coach them to make wise purchases. Our purchases helped 65 Christian families. We also had the local Christians sing the Our Father in the original language of Aramaic, the language of Jesus. It was beautifully sung and brought people to tears.

From there we went to Mass in Shepherds Field where the angels appeared to the Shepherds on the first Christmas Eve. Another exceptional Hamily but Fr. Nathan can be heard/seen here.

Lunch at our favorite Christmas Tree Restaurant where we have three Christian brothers by bringing our business to them.

Then we went to the Church of the Nativity but the crowds were so huge and the line was so long unfortunately we are unable to get down to the place where Jesus was born. It is very difficult to make people stand in line for four hours. We even arrived during the lunch hour hoping the lines would be shorter but they were just as long.

An hour and a half of free time at the hotel before we all gathered to walk over to the Holy Sepulchre for the Solemn Entry where our group got a special reception by the Franciscans with organ accompaniment and we all bypassed the four hour line to go into the tomb of our Lord.

Dinner and a tour of the Holy Shroud Exhibit closed out the day. Enjoy!

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Professor Rose at Amsterdam Airport (with Janet and I)

Good stories originate and are told in airports. Today at a layover in Amsterdam, between Detroit and Tel Aviv Janet was thirsty. The only vending machine took Euros. I had only dollars and shekels. She said, “But I am so thirsty.”

An dignified Jewish man sitting nearby said, “I think I have some Euros I can give you. We traded dollars and got Janet a drink. He was so kind and friendly we talked for a while. We told him we were Catholics on our way to guide a group of pilgrims.

Pope Pius XIII who defended Jews and saved 800,000

He immediately lit into two stories. He is a retired sociologist professor from Massachusetts and went to Israel about fifteen years ago. Sadly he was very influenced by the scandalous book “Hitler’s Pope” which accuses Pope Pius XII of doing nothing for the Jews during WWII. Of course Janet and I jumped right into the defense of the Church. It is a common misconception, especially among many Jews. Unfortunate. Pope Pius XII never collaborated with Hitler and worked underground to save over 800,000 Jews. The head Rabbi of Rome, Rabbi Zolli was so impressed he converted to Catholicism.

Abbey of Dormition on Mt. Zion where Mary fell asleep in Christ

The professor told us a story of his visit to Israel years ago. While on Mount Zion at the cenotaph tomb of King David and the Abbey of the Dormition of Mary. The group was Jewish and the guide was saying, “This is the site of David’s Tomb.” At Mary’s Dormition he said, “This is where the Catholic’s have a tradition that Mary fell asleep and went to heaven from here. Who knows.”

Later that day Professor Rose saw the same guide with a group of Catholics and a priest in his collar. Out of curiosity he followed the guide again. This time the guide said, “Nobody knows where David was buried but this is where the Jews have a tradition.” At the Dormition of Mary the guide said, “This is where Mary fell asleep before she was assumed into heaven.”

Our friend confronted the guide asking, “Why did you tell two different stories to those two different groups?” “Ah,” said the guide, “it’s a job and you say what you have to say.” In other words: lie, truth, make something up—who is the wiser for it. It is a job and I try to make people happy and get my tip.

This infuriates me but I see it every day too in Israel. The Jewish guides are unbelieving skeptics and don’t believe what they tell the Christians. Jewish and Christian groups get very different stories.

JW's handing out their magazine

He told us another funny story this time (not sad like the one above). Jehovahs Witnesses came to his door and his nine year old daughter was there. The ladies handed him their magazine. He said, “We are not interested— we are Jewish.”

They left their Watchtower Magazine on the doorstep and the girl asked, “Why did you throw it away dad?” He said, “Because it is not true and it’s from a fringe group of people with crazy religious beliefs.” The girl was very interested and asked a lot of questions.

He finally ended up saying, “We don’t agree with them. They are JW’s. I threw away their magazine because we don’t believe it. We are Jewish.”

A few weeks later they went to Israel and due to lack of funds had to stay in the seedier part of Tel Aviv. It was the “Red Light District.” When they were going to their hotel a hooker approached him with her advertisement. The innocent young daughter intervened and stepped up to the hooker and said, “No thanks. We are Jewish!”

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