In God’s Land: Bethlehem and The Shepherd’s Fields

5 09 2019

“But you, 0 Bethlehem-Ephrathaha, least among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne, and then the rest of his kindred shall return to the children of Israel.”…Micah 5:2

The saying above was from prophet Micah, a Jewish prophet who lived 700 BC. Today we visited Bethlehem; the place where this prophesy came true 2000 years later.

 Bethlehem is in Palestinian territory, and crossing from the Jewish quarter to the Palestine, we cross the border, from Israel into the West Bank, with border walls and armed check point. We had to carry our passports.

Our first stop was at the Shepherd’s field, where the Angels appeared to the Shepherds announcing to them the good news of the birth of the Son of God.

The Sheppard’s caves

“West bank and Gaza are deserts and like all deserts, temperatures spike by day and by night. During winter, things get worse, and at night, it’s not uncommon for it to snow.

The Sheppard herding their sheep, foraging for what little grass they can find by day had to take shelter in caves at nights or freeze to death.

 One winter night, an Angel appeared to some Sheppard and said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger

These hard, rough living men who would give their lives to save one sheep, tough looking, and yet gently carrying the wounded sheep on their shoulders, caring for them until healthy.  The Angels came to announce them, the birth of the True Shepherd

During Mass at Sheppard’s Cave

After Mass we went to small chapel by the caves, called the Chapel of the Angels. We also went to inspect the ruins of 1st Century Byzantine Church by the side.

Outside the Chapel of The Angels, Sheppard’s Field

Remains of 1st century Byzantine Church near the caves and the Chapel of Angel
A look at Palestinian homes at Bethlehem from the Shepard fields
Exterior view of the Chapel of Angels
Taking pictures behind the Chapel of Angels

Inside the Chapel of the Angels

Bethlehem: the Church of the Nativity

We continue to thread on the footprints of Christ.

While gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, thy all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne.

Our next visit was to the Church of Nativity, built on the rock on which Christ was born.

Door of humility

To enter the Church of the Nativity, one must stoop low because the door to this most holy site is very low. The story goes that in ancient times, robbers on horseback would ride into the church, snatching anything they can grab. So the door was made low so that a horse cannot enter.

Providentially, it became a good metaphor of how to reach God. To approach God we must stoop and come down from our high horse.  We must bow and admit that we do not have a monopoly of knowledge. Those who refuse to do this will not find God.

Outside the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Arriving the city of Bethlehem
Sites and sounds of the city of Bethlehem
Queing to enter the door of humility at the Church of Nativity

Inside the Church of Nativity

Columns inside the Chuch of Nativity
Queue of people waiting to enter the Nativity grotto
Getting nearer to the Nativity grotto

Crowd of people waiting to enter the Grotto of the Nativity

Line waiting to enter the Nativity grotto
At the tip of the entrance of the the Nativity Grotto

Inside the Grotto of the Nativity

O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.

The spot where Christ was born
Touching the Manger where Mary kept the infant Jesus
The star mark the spot
Kissing the spot where Jesus was born
Touching the spot where Jesus was born

Christ is unique, unlike Mohammed, he isn’t only a prophet, unlike Buddha, he is not just enlightened, unlike Socrates, he is not just a wise man; he is much more. He is God.

The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.



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