Gay Jesus funny? Netflix is stone cold crazy!

20 12 2019

Movie streaming giant, Netflix, has lost its coconuts by streaming a third rate movie that portrays Jesus as gay.

 The movie, “The First Temptation of Christ,” offends more than 2.18 billion Christians around the world, by depicting Jesus as a homosexual and Mary as a weed smoking trollop?

 According to Citizen.org, the film presents Christ as having relationships with a homosexual while the disciples are alcoholics and unruly. The Virgin Mary is presented as an adulterous woman who has sex with God the Father. Until recently, the anti-Christian works by the small Brazilian producers of the movie were published on their YouTube channel. But this year, Netflix has decided to buy their production and distribution rights in a clear agreement to the group’s blasphemous works.

Why would Netflix want to promote a film that they know offends so many of their customers? A movie based on lies and falsification of historical facts about the life of Jesus Christ? Jesus lived and died in the 6BC-33AD, there are historical records people who lived with him and no such record exist that he is a homosexual, but quite on the contrary, homosexuality is a sin against Christian norms. Not even the Pharisee who hated Jesus so much as to kill him charged him with such. So why would anyone, 2000 yrs latter wish to offend billions believers with such an obvious lie?  But it’s only a movies, they say, nothing serious, a satire, no one should get upset. Really?

Christians have lost lives and properties defending their faith, thousand have died at the guillotine; tens of thousands were thrown to the lions for not denying their lord and savior Jesus Christ. Netflix and Porta must be stone cold crazy.     And their past streaming of hundreds of genuine Christian movies doesn’t make them less culpable for pandering this false narrative, much like a man is not less culpable when he commits murder because he saved hundreds of lives.

They wouldn’t do that to Muslims though

Netflix’s recent outrage has sparked the age-old debate on how Christian can get people to respect what they believe. Muslims have successfully won a fearful respect for their sacred through violence and bloodshed. Christians on the other hand are bound by cast iron rules of non-violence, exploited by vicious men bereft of decency to trample on their feelings with impunity.  CitizenGo, a Christian advocacy group has received two million signatures condemning the movie– significant, but hardly enough. Christians must stop and contemplate Jesus holy anger, when he sees people misusing the things of his Father. What a lesson for us never to be indifferent or cowardly when others fail to treat the things of God with due respect.

Of course violence has been tried by emperors and kings in centuries gone by and it utterly betrayed the Christian faith in spite of the good intentions of the people who deployed it.

Yet a man has the right and duty to defend the honor of his mother even if it means coming to blows. Those who go about heaping scorn on the values people cherish best beware that every man has his limits and sooner or later patience wears thin and they must have themselves to blame for what happens.

If being civilized means behaving reasonably and politely, avoiding hurting other people’s feelings, then Netflix actions are barbaric  

Two sides of the same coin

A woman writing in the punch newspaper, in words couched with thinly veiled disdain for the Christian said that the uptick in false narrative about Christianity is tit for tat for century old false narratives pandered by Christian to destroy ancient pagan religions.

But that’s a muddle up understanding of history of pagan religions. Most pagan practices actually rely on of satanic powers to achieve their purpose, and not a few practice sacrifices of blood of animal or even humans. Their code of ethics is nothing but primal instincts that often strays into outright errors, even evil.  Truth does not molest falsehood when it corrects it, knowledge cannot tolerate ignorance. The Christian faith does not denigrate pagan religion, but perfects and purify them from error to lead men to truth. The Christian faith by purifying pagan rituals from twins, virgin sacrifices and cannibalism brought about civilization.

Women the world over are enjoying the fruits of the untiring of works of Christian missionaries in educate young girls and give them opportunities denied them in traditional pagan societies.

Voodoo Afro-Brazilians pagan religions are replete with fetishes and unhygienic cavorting with dead bodies that sanitary laws demand censuring such practitioners. Still it must be pointed out that Christian ethics demands that errors of paganism must be corrected with charity. To do otherwise would go against Christ’s teaching. Truth is sacrosanct, and promoting a deliberate falsification of historically verifiable facts about Jesus’ life and teaching even as a joke is being mischievous.  When art misrepresents history, it is not illuminating but confusing.

Breaking a norm of decency is not freedom and progress, but that is a caricature of true freedom. A motorist, who thinks he is freer when he breaks traffic laws, is most likely to eventually kill himself and others.  Those applauding the wholesale ditching of good manners may find out that they have ditched civilization itself.

The Christian faith never needed to resort to violence because she never needed violence. Rather, she has been a counterforce against the violence in every man, urging the imitation Jesus Christ who, like lamb that was led to the slaughter, opened not his mouth, who though being God, became man, and went lower still accepted death on the cross, in other to redeemed man.

Those who do violence in the name of the Christ know they are violating the faith they profess. Nowhere in Christ’s teaching is any form of violence toward others encouraged, rather Christ commands love of enemies and doing good to those who hate. The power of the Christ message is the only valid defense of the Christian faith. When Christians put the teachings of Christ into practice, Christians will convert the world, and today’s Christian must convert the world– by truly striving to be saints, for this world’s crisis are crises of saints.

Chinwuba Iyizoba





Stones would cry out: Kanye praises Jesus

31 10 2019

I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out!” Confound me if I am wrong, but are not these prophetic words of Jesus being fulfilled before our eyes. When so many Christians have denied their love for Jesus and embraced adulterous paganism; when Christian celebrities shriek with horror when someone tries to associate them with Jesus in public for the sake of the worldly glamour, stones, men you least to expect are praising Jesus, in public and at the top of their voices. A lesson for all to see. Watch notorious Kanye West, rapper, songwriter, and Chicago bad boy praising Jesus





Caught off guard, Hillary calls on Jesus Mary and Joseph

23 10 2019

If you want to know how tough someone is, put the fear of death in them. When the light fixtures at a studio where young Hillary Clinton and Bill were having a TV interview, she thought she was going to die, calling on Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

Today she is a self proclaimed atheist, denying the right of the unborn and persecuting Christians. Yet as Dolly Patton said, “I don’t see many death-bed atheist, when the time comes, they all start cramming. Death is inevitable and calls out all our pretenses because when death calls, truth answers.  The best advice is to live as you wish to die.

Watch Senator Ted Cruz speak on Hillary’s views on abortion below





A powerful proof of forgiveness, boy hugs officer who killed his brother

12 10 2019

A powerful proof of forgiveness, boy hugs officer who killed his brother.

“I forgive you, I love you, ” he said.

Watch this video of true forgiveness.

It was the last thing anyone was expecting.

Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger had just been sentenced to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting a black man, Botham Jean, in his own apartment.
Jean’s younger brother Brandt Jean was on the witness stand Wednesday, giving a victim-impact statement, when he turned to the judge and made a most unusual request.
“I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please?” he asked.
What happened next stunned both the courtroom and the nation. Jean stepped off the witness stand and stepped over to Guyger. The two hugged for nearly a minute.
“I forgive you. And I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you,” Jean told Guyger. “I think giving your life to Christ is the best thing Botham would want for you.”(source CNN)

Video of Amber Guyger, former cop being sentenced to 10 yrs for killing a man.





In God’s Land: Nazareth and Mount of Transfiguration

21 09 2019

20th September 2019

We had early breakfast, by 6.30am to be precise, and departed for Nazareth by 7.20 am prompt. Nazareth has about 70,000 inhabitants today, but in the time of Jesus, it had just about 100 people. It is a two hour drive from the city of Jerusalem.

We took the shortest way; high way 6, because we needed to get there on time to see Nazareth and celebrate Mass is at 11 am at the Church of Annunciation.

Our mission is to visit Mary’s well; a well that ancient tradition says was frequently used by the Blessed Virgin Mary and the boy, Jesus. We also hope see the workshop of St. Joseph, and the cliff from which the people of Nazareth wanted to push Jesus down in an act that is best described as an attempted murder. After Mass we intend to visit the ancient village of Cana where Jesus turned water into wine at the insistence of his mother and finally we will end our tour with a visit to mount Tabor, the mountain where Jesus transfigured and his clothes became dazzling white, in the presence of his apostles and with apparition of Moses and Elijah. (Mark 9:3)

As you can see it’s a tight schedule for one day thus the early rising.

Nazareth

350m above sea level, Nazareth was where everything started. God took flesh in the womb of a woman, the most pure womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lk 1:26-38). On the way, we saw the Chapel of our Lady of the freight, to commemorate Mary seeing the people of Nazareth trying to cast Jesus into the cliff. (Lk 4:29)

In the time of our Jesus, there were just about 30 families living in Nazareth. Today, Nazareth is the biggest Arab town owned by Israel. Most of the inhabitants are Muslims.

We entered Nazareth using the Via Maris (the way of the see), a high way that begins in Memphis in the delta of the Nile towards the lake of Galilee. We passed through the valley of the “seed of God” also called Jezreel, very fertile plain with abundance of agriculture. From the bus we saw rows and rows of cultivated fields. Agriculture is the highest export of Israel and a huge source of income. We passed through the land of Gideon
Finally we left the plains of Jezreel up to Nazareth.

Story of two Churches and Mary’s well

In Nazareth, there are two Churches of the annunciation. One belongs to the Greek Orthodox, who claims that the first apparition of Arc Angel Gabriel to Mary took place at the well whilst she was fetching water; she took fright and ran to her house. It was at the second apparition that she was finally calm enough to listen to the Angel and thus the orthodox built a Church near the well, and to give tourist something to see, they diverted the spring that fed the original Mary’s well to the Church, so Mary’s well is no longer flowing because this.

Pictures of Mary’s well

Mary’s well
Our guide, Oliver explains why Mary’s well is dry

Sad and unfortunately, this the only spring of fresh water in Nazareth, and they are using it up all for themselves.
We stopped to look the dry well of Mary, before proceeding to the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, at least to have a look at the original water of the well.

Pictures of the Visit to the Greek Orthodox Church of Annunciation

Pictures ate the courtyard of the Greek Orthodox church of the annuciation
Seated inside the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation
Roof of the Church

The grievance between the Catholics and the Greek Orthodox goes back many century and many versions of the conflicts bear the bias of who is telling the story. Some say that the bone of contention was that the fourth crusaders sacked Byzantium, stole the true cross, crown of thorns, which led to the mutual excommunications between the two branches.

The synagogue that almost murdered Jesus

Next, we visited the 1st century synagogue where the boy Jesus and his father and mother often went to pray. It was a stone throw from Mary’s house. It was here that they wanted to throw him off the cliff after he had read the scroll. The story is told in Luke

It reads:
“Jesus returned to his hometown Nazareth, from Capernaum, and he went to the synagogue. The synagogue official gave him the scroll to read, they didn’t like his interpretation and they tried to cast him of a cliff.” Luke (4:16-29)

The Jews had a custom they called Bar mitzvah in which every boy who comes of age is given the scroll of the book of the prophet Isaiah to read and afterwards asked to explain or interpret the verse he had read for all in the synagogue. If he passes, he is included as one of the ten that can start a synagogue. Jesus was given the scroll and the people didn’t like how he interpreted it and wanted to kill him.

Church of the Annunciation


When we left the synagogue, we went straight the authentic Church of the Annunciation, which is next to the synagogue. According to an ancient tradition passed on by some Fathers of the Church, some relations of Jesus were still living in Nazareth in the 2nd century had preserved both the room in which the Angel Gabriel visited Mary, and the house of the Holy Family. There are written testimonies of pilgrims who visited the house in Nazareth in the 4th century when it was already a place venerated by Christians, complete with an altar.

Pictures of the Church of the Annunciation

Catholic Church of the Annunciation
Introduction from Saxum
Walls surrounding the Church is covered with beautiful paintings of Mary from all corner of the world
Entrance
Different depictions of Mary inside the Church
Side view of the Church
Sculptor of Mary as a young girl over the entrance

The Catholic Church of Annunciation the biggest, most magnificent church in the Middle East. It was built over the site of an earlier Byzantine-era and then Crusader-era church. Inside, the lower level contains the Grotto of the Annunciation, the remains of the original childhood home of Mary. Scientific tests on the house in Loreto matches the one here, in Nazareth, likewise the graffito written on the walls and traces of oil found on the wall dating back to the time of Jesus are identical in both places.

On the front door of the Church, there is a depiction of the major events in Jesus’ life.

Pictures of the Front door of the Church

Inscriptions at the door
Designs on the wall
Pilgrims visiting the Church
Magnificent Image of our lady at the Annunciation from Philipines
magnificent depictions at the door ” the life of Mary”
Inside the upper floor
Church of the Annunciations is the biggest church in the middle east

We recited the Salve Regina inscribed on the wall on both sides of the main door. Above the door, there is a bronze sculptor of Mary as a young girl, looking towards Calvary, Jerusalem

Then on the arcades of the Church, there are paintings of Mary from different countries of the world; Germany, Japan, Philippines and so on.
In 1964, when the Church was being built, the Pope Paul VI wondered if it was necessary to have such a big Church, in such a small town, but today Christians of Nazareth are grateful because they didn’t know that they would become a minority

The Church consists of two floors. The ground floor is at the level of the grotto of the 1st century house where Mary lived, and the upper floor of the Church has many stained glass windows and paintings of Mary donated from every country in the world.

The altar piece is a magnificent painting of heaven with all the saints and martyrs walking towards eternal happiness with Mary depicted in an amazing representation as giving birth to the Church.

Pictures of the upper floor

Preparing for Mass at the Upper floor
dome of the Church

On the ground floor is original room that Mary was in when the Angel visited her. Its white stone wall blackened with age and behind a small stair case going to an upper floor

Pictures of ground floor and grotto of Mary’s house

Loswer floor, house of Mary 1st Century
Reaching up to take a shot
Standing in front of Mary’s house
Panoramic view of Mary’s house
Shot at the circle from which Mary’s house can be seen from upper floor

Nazareth means the of spring water. It is amazing how insignificant this little town had been before the birth of Jesus, for instance, the Old Testament never mentioned Nazareth, neither does Josephus, the Jewish historian, who is reputed to record anything important to the Jews. It is marvelous that God has chooses such a lowly place to come down to meet us. This should encourage everyone one who feels left behind, that God chooses the lowly and enfeebled things of this world to confound the rich and the powerful.

We attended Mass at the upper floor of the Church of Annunciation by 11 am

Pictures of the Mass

At exactly 12 noon, the bells of the Church of the Annunciation started ringing out melodies and the scene of the annunciation was reenacted as the Franciscans gave a benediction from inside the house of Nazareth while we stood aside and watched.

Pictures of Noon Benediction

Like we said earlier, this Church is the biggest Church in the Middle East, and it therefore the envy of all. In 2002, Muslims raised money to build a big mosque directly in front of the Church of the annunciation. The intended that mosque would be bigger and over shadow her glory.

The day the foundation, the fundamentalist Muslims were gleefully shouting in unison “Today Nazareth, tomorrow the world!”
But things quickly went out of control, and riots broke out, many Christian shops were burnt and looted causing the Israeli government intervene and cancel the project, forcing the Muslim to stop the constructions and uprooted the foundation already begun.

The city of Nazareth is run by Muslim families, thus sanitation is poor, laws are not enforced, and the town is badly run. In the ottoman where here for 400 yrs and they really didn’t care about the local population, so no hospitals where built. Thanks to foreign countries that mercifully came and built and built hospitals, there might not have been any hospitals in Nazareth today.

There’s a minaret and a mosque on the highest point in Nazareth. How it happened was that 23 yrs ago, a family asked if they could hire this highest point, and the owner said yes, the family lived there for a few months and then gradually built a mosque on top of the peak. The problem is that once a mosque is built, it’s impossible to remove it. That place becomes holy ground. That’s why the foundation of the one that they attempted to build over the Church of annunciation had to be removed. So they built the mosque by stealth.

After spending time in the Church of the annunciation, we walked over to another Church, called the Church of St. Joseph. It is said that the workshop in which Joseph the carpenter and the foster father of Jesus was located here. What we saw were ritual baths and what looked like a place for baptism. The workshop must have been converted into a church during the first century and hence the ritual baths.

Pictures of the Church of St Joseph

Ritual births in the Church of St. Joseph

Cana

We finally left Nazareth about 1 pm to go to Cana. We passed by the ancient Roman town of Sephoris. This town is not mentioned in bible but was very rich and close to Nazareth. Perhaps, some of Joseph’s clients lived there since it was just 3km from Nazareth and perhaps Jesus used to accompany his father there to make deliveries. Sephoris was rich Roman city, and Jesus must have seen luxurious life, huge balcony and opulence, in contrast to his cave like home in Nazareth.

Pictures on the road to Cana

Pilgrims who came to renew there marriage vows

When we entered the city of Cana, we saw that all the shops here advertise “the Wine of Cana,” the Miracle of Jesus in Cana. Archeologically, there is no certainty of the authenticity of this Cana and as it where, many other Canas have cropped up, with competing claims of being the authentic Cana of scriptures. Still, it was good to be here.

Pictures of Church of Cana

Underneath the Church at Cana

As we were at Church of Cana, a group of people came to renew their marriage vows.
Cana is about the superabundance of the grace of sacraments. We bought the wine of Cana, sweet wine

Mt. Tabor


When we left the Church of Cana, our next destination was Mount Tabor.
Tabor is on the outskirts of Cana and before we could leave Cana and get to the outskirts, we encountered lots of traffic because the Muslims were coming from the mosque and school children closing from school.

Pictures of the road to Mt. Tabor

Mt Tabor
Tabor and surrounding district
On the bus up Tabor
Church of Transfiguration at the back ground

We passed by the Bedouin town of Shibli is set at the foot of Mount Tabor. It consists of a single clan, and everyone has the same surname and they intermarry between themselves. This is not only a health hazard but a logistic nightmare for a postman who has to deliver parcels to them.

We had a quick lunch at the base of Mt. Tabor before boarding taxis that took us up to the peak of Mt Tabor. Tabor is 640m above sea level and this is where Jesus transfigured before three of his apostles, Peter James and John. Moses and Elijah appear during the transfiguration. This is also where in the Old Testament, Deborah fought and killed the Canaanites.

Church of Mt. Tabor

Nowhere in the gospel is the Tabor mentioned, yet Jesus chose this mount to display his glory to the apostles to strengthen them for his coming passion and death. The Byzantines have originally built a church at this peak. The crusaders also built a church here. They were all knocked down by the Muslims until the Franciscans came and bought the property and gave the contract to the same architect that built Shepherd fields, and many others churches

Pictures of Inside the Church of Mt. Tabor

Entering the Church of Transfiguration
A group of south African pilgrims having Mass
Painting of Moses on the Roof of the Church
Views from the hieght of Tabor
Church of transfiguration

On the left inside the church, is the Chapel of Moses with Ray of light.
Then the Chapel of Elijah, with his animals.
At the bottom of the Church, a beautiful image of Jesus transfiguration. On the longest day, the light shines in on this image and it shimmering and beautiful. The roof is made of alabaster, because the architecture wanted people to be transfigured.

It is said that every year, a batch of young drug addicts come here from Italy, working and praying to be transformed.

Why did the Lord choose to transfigure himself in a place that was so far from where he lived and required a strenuous physical effort over a long trail?” Blessed Alvaro gives the answer himself, saying “that it was probably so that we could see with our own eyes that to reach God, we also have to put in a human effort that is physical sometimes.”





In God’s Land: Jesus in Prison and Peter Denies

18 09 2019

Basilica of St. Peter in Gallicantu

The band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews seized Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas; for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.

Peter, terrified by the servants, denied having anything to do with Jesus. “I do not know him; I do not know what you are saying; I do not know this man!”
And immediately, while he was still speaking, a cock crowed and the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” He went out and wept bitterly.
On the door of the Church of Peter in Gallicantu (Gallicantu means “cock crow”) commemorates the triple denial of Peter and the bitter tears he wept after the cook crowed.
It is located on the eastern slope of Mount Zion outside the old Jerusalem wall.

Pictures of the exterior of the Basilica of St. Peter in Gallicantu

Art work on the door of St. Peter in Gallicantu


At the entrance is a joint art work of Jews, Muslims and Christians of Jesus at supper with his discipline and telling them that one of you will betray me.

Inside the Basilica of St. Peter in Gallicantu

In inside the first floor of the Church, is the court of the Sanhedrin, with fresco of 12 Sanhedrin judging Jesus on the altar piece.
Jesus’ trial was illegal because courts do not open at night. And no trails should hold during Passover.

Jesus’ Prison

From here we went down below to the house of Caiaphas proper and the dungeon below. Prisoners arrested at night where usually thrown into the dungeon till the morning when trial could hold. The prisoners, hand tied, were dropped down through a hole and then they are fastened facing the wall with hooks. The prison was discovered accidentally when the hammer of a construction worker dropped accidentally and fell through a hole in the ground.

The hole from which Jesus bound hands and feet was let down into the dungeon

We read the psalm (88) here and touched the wall where Jesus was bound till morning. Next, we climbed back up, and looking at the purity bath, or ritual baths, or micvah which Caiaphas had in his home. This practice has been adopted by the Muslims also.

Where Peter denied Jesus

We then went to where Peter denied Christ three times, outside, at the courtyard. There was a statue of him with the two maids.

The stairs used by Jesus to go from the upper room to gethsemane


From this balcony we could see the garden of Olives and Gethsemane
We also saw the stairs that Jesus used to go to from the Cenacle across the Kidron valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. Also visible from there was the east end of the temple, said to be the spot on which King David was standing when he saw a naked woman bathing and committed adultery with her and subsequently murder.
There also he saw the angel of God standing by the dome of the rock, (rock of Moriah) ready to destroy the city of Jerusalem, and he pleaded with angel to spare the city and kill him(David) instead.
The angels said to him “Go to the Mount and make a sacrifice.”
After he had made the sacrifice, he said to the angle, “Let me build you a temple here. But the Lord said no, since his hands were stained with blood, and told him that his son, Solomon will build the temple. We left the Basilica after staying there for about an hour, pondering the deep love that God has for us, we headed to the Church of the Dormition of Mary, where we were to celebrate the Holy Mass

On our way to the Basilica of Dormition of Mary

We arrived the Church of Dormition of Mary located in the highest point on Mount Zion. The location is identified in Christian tradition as the place where the Virgin Mary died — or “fell asleep”, as the name suggests. Christian sources say that Mary was probably 50 years old when she died. There are claims that Mary died in Ephesus, Turkey, but this is not supported by the early Christians. According to St. John Damascene, “St Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon [AD 451], made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the apostles, but that her tomb, when opened, upon the request of St Thomas [who arrived late], was found empty; wherefrom the apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven.”

Pictures of the exterior and interior of the Basilca of the Dormition of Mary

Basilica of Dormition of Mary
Mosiac art work of Mary careing for infant Jesus on the dome
Mosiac floor of the Basilca of Dormition of Mary

On the ground floor of the Church, there is a life size statue of Mary sleeping.

Life size statue of Mary sleeping
Mosiac of six Old Testament women above the sleeping statue
Painting above the statue of Mary sleeping: Jesus caring for Mary in Heaven
Painting on the basilica dome: Mary cared for Jesus on earth

On the mosaic above the statue of our lady Dormition, there are paintings of six women in the Old Testament.

We said the Hail Mary Six times besides the statue of sleeping Mary.
There were more details we could have missed. The painting on the dome in the basilica proper was Mary caring for Jesus which represents the humanity of Jesus. While the painting on the dome above the sleeping statue showed Jesus caring for Mary in heaven which represents the divinity of Jesus.

We heard Mass at the Basilica of Dormition of Mary

It was a great experience to celebrate Mass at the place where Mary the Mother of Jesus breathed her last. We ask her to intercede for us who still remain her till we go to join her in her in heaven where she is.

Pictures after the Mass





In God’s Land: Gethsemane, Jesus’ Agony

16 09 2019

“Father, remove this cup from me, but not my will but thine be done.”
When God’s appointed time comes to save mankind from the slavery of sin, we contemplate Jesus Christ in Gethsemane, suffering in agony to the point of sweating blood (cf. Lk 22:44). He spontaneously and unconditionally accepts the sacrifice which the Father is asking of him.
Ancient information located the grotto of Gethsemane, in the Kidron Valley, where Jesus went with his disciple, and where he was arrested. Excavations which took place after a flooding revealed that place was previously an olive press with olive gardens and a cistern. In 4 century AD, a byzantine rock church was built there and later rebuilt in the 6th. Also several tombs were excavated near by witnessing to the ancient tradition of burying the dead near holy places.

The Garden of Olives

The Church of Gethsemane has 16 domes because 16 nations donated to rebuild this church. Gethsemane was an olive oil press. Inside the garden, 8 of the trees here still dates to the time of Jesus. It was a garden or orchard where there was an oil-press (this is the meaning of the name Gethsemane), and it was outside the city walls of Jerusalem, to the east of the city, on the way to Bethany.

Pictures of the Garden of Olives

The Church of Gethsemane

Inside the Church of Gethsemane, the blue-ish purple color of the stained glass windows helps pilgrims pray. The Church faces the golden or beautiful gate where Peter healed the blind man. It has a deer on the roof. The deer is on the dome is the symbol of psalm, like a deer thirsts for water so my soul is thirsts for the living God. In the year 2009, Benedict 16th celebrated Mass in the olive garden across and the President of Israel, Netanyahu, attended

Pictures of Church of Gethsemane

The stone on which our lord sweated blood

Here we are touching the stone on which Jesus sweated blood while he was praying

Mary’s Empty Tomb

Next we went to see the empty tomb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where she was assumed body and soul into heaven. When Mary passed away, they laid her in-corrupt body at Mount Zion for nine days. After, they took her to the burial grounds of Gethsemane and buried her. Jews buried their dead facing the temple and thus our Lady’s tomb faced the temple.
Three days later, they found the tomb empty.
According to archeologist, Niccacci, there was an ancient text that was read during the feast of Assumption which described the location of Mary’s tomb as part of the Jewish burial ground or (Necropolis)
In 1959, excavations revealed that the Mary’s empty tomb was on a burial ground, there was a happy coincidence between this literature and archaeological findings. Early Jewish Christians had isolated the tomb from the rest of the tombs and preserved it with veneration. Two churches, one upon another were built by the Byzantines in the 5th century BC.
We celebrated Mass at the Grotto of Gethsemane (Where Jesus was arrested, betrayed by Judas with a kiss)

Pictures of the Empty Tomb of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Inside Mary’s tomb

Mass at Gethsemane

A place of agony, a place of our incapacity to keep close to our lord in prayer! We ask God to teach us to abandon our selves to the will of God. Help us to always do the will of God

Church of the Pater Noster

Next, leaving Gethsemane we went to the Pater noster Church.
It’s the place where our lord thought the disciples the prayer, Pater Nostra. It’s also here that our lord ascended into heaven. It’s also here that our lord wept over Jerusalem.
We had to pay money to enter because it is controlled by Muslims. When Saladin conquered, he converted it to a business, Muslim businessmen pay to hire it and charge money from Christian pilgrims.

Pictures of the Church of the Pater Noster

The Church of Pater Noster today has the arch of the crusader.
Our Lord loved the Mount of Olives because it over looked the city of Jerusalem. It was from the Mount of Olives that Jesus ascended into heaven. It was also here that our lord wept over Jerusalem. The Mount has numerous caves and it is in one of them that Jesus taught his disciples the “Our lord’s prayer” or the “Pater Noster” as it is called in Latin. The Church of the Pater Noster stand on the Mount of Olive, astride one of the caves in which ancient tradition says Jesus taught this prayer per excellence.
It was built under the direction of Constantine’s mother Helena in the early 4th century. The church survived intact until it was destroyed by Persians in 614.
In the year 1875, a young princess, Princess Aurelia Bossi came to the Holy land and saw Muslims selling the remaining stones of the 4th-century church for tombstones, she paid them off and acquired the land, and handed it to the French government. She is buried here as a mark of gratitude for recovering this place from the Muslims.
In the Church, the Pater Noster is written in 173 languages. There’s also a piece of mosaic left over from the basilica built by St. Helena

Yes, it is a cave, winter is cold, and our Lord had no money to pay for hotels, so he and his disciples gathered in caves they didn’t have heating. Here, in this cave, Jesus spoke about the end and about his passion and death. When he finished, one of his disciples asked him, Lord teach us to Pray
Here we held hands and sang the Pater Noster in English, Philippines and Igbo.

We saw the plaque in Samaritan. They were part of the Jews, but were excommunicated because they mingled with Babylon. Today, they (Samaritans) still intermarry between themselves and thus are dying out. There are just only 760 Samaritans remaining in the world (380 in Jerusalem and 380 in Shecem) and many of them are retarded.

Ascension

Next we went to the Chapel of Ascension
There are two foot prints of the Lord which he left as he was lifted up to heaven chiseled into a rock but one has been removed and put in the dome of the Rock. From here our lord Ascended to Heaven

Pictures of our visit to the Chapel of Ascension

Video from Saxum on the Ascension

Church of Dominos Flevit. Where our lord wept over Jerusalem.


Next we climbed further up to the Church of Dominos Flevit, this was where Christ wept, crying:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! – – Matthew 23:37
Jerusalem, a city that Jesus loved so much, that never returned the love of God because they have not learned how to be friends of God. We become God’s friends through prayer. When we persevere in prayer, even if it is repeating over and over, Jesus I love you.
As St. Augustine says, “It must burn in you that which you want to ignite in others.” Jesus was burning with sacrificial love for Jerusalem, wishing to heal her and teach her the way of live but she wouldn’t listen.
Planted in front of the Church was the tree of the crown of thorns

The Church of Dominus Flevit overlooks today the dome of the rock and the Alaska mosque, because the prophesy of Jesus was fulfilled in the year AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed, and the temple burnt down, such that there was no one stone left upon another.

That is the focus of the trouble between the Jews and the Muslims. The Muslims claim that the rock enclosed by the dome is the place where Prophet Mohammed ascended. But yet the Temple Mount was the holy place of the Jews many centuries before the birth of Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam. King Solomon constructed the first temple in the very place that the dome of the rock is today in 900 B.C, but it was destroyed by the Babylonians. Second temple was built by Herod 20 B.C. This destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Mohammed was born in 22 April, 571 AD

To enter the Al-aqsa mosque and the temple mount is free but there was a time it cost ten dollars per visit. They stopped collecting money after the second intifada which started when the then Israeli President, Ariel Sharon entered the Al-aqsa mosque. As we stood looking at Jerusalem and the temple mount from the Church of Dominus Flevit, time for the Muslim prayers arrived and at once powerful microphones started blasting out Islamic prayer call to prayers.

Pictures of Dominus Flevit





In God’s Land: Where Jesus Resurrected

15 09 2019

We continue on the footprints of Christ, today we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher also called the Church of the Resurrection, located in the Christian quarters of the old Jerusalem.

Church of the Resurrection or Church of the Holy Sepulcher

The church contains the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, at a place known as Calvary or Golgotha, and Jesus’ empty tomb, where he was buried and resurrected. Archeological excavations revealed that the area was a quarry in the years since seventh century BC and in first BC and leveled into a garden. In this garden two tomb was carved, one a single burial with an arch and the other, multiple burial chamber. The single burial chamber was built by Joseph Arimathea as the tomb of Christ.

The place remained a garden till 135 AD when Emperor Adrian who wanted to exterminate Christianity expanded Jerusalem to encompass Golgotha, and built a shrine to Jupiter directly above tomb of Christ and a shine to Adonis over Calvary, the spot of the crucifixion, in attempt to conceal them from the flock of pilgrims who started going to venerate the site after the death and resurrection of Christ. Adrian’s actions inadvertently helped preserve the site in tact till 325 when Constantine came and built a Byzantine basilica over the tomb.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher has a long history, but today, control of the church itself is shared among several Christian denominations and two Muslim families that open the door of the Sepulcher every morning by 5 am. They knock at the gate of the Church and the orthodox priest opens the window and peeps to be sure that it is the representatives of the two families, he then hands them a ladder so they can climb and open the door with keys. The door is opened by 5.30 am till 9 p.m daily. We arrived by 6 am to say Mass at the Chapel of Crucifixion next to the Chapel of Calvary.

Stone of Anointing


Facing the door of the Church is a Stone of Unction or Anointing, flanked by tall candlesticks and adorned with a row of hanging votive lamps.

This was the stone slab on which Christ’s body was prepared for burial, is a reminder of the devout care lavished on the body of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus after they had taken it down from the Cross. We stopped to kiss the stone and people brought out their holy objects and rosaries to rub on the stone to absorb its sanctity.

Pictures of kissing the stone of Unction

Stone of Anointing

Chapel of Crucifixion


Next, we climbed the narrow steps to Calvary, this site of the crucifixion. There are two chapels almost adjacent to one another. One is the Chapel of Nailing of the Cross and the other is the Chapel of Crucifixion. Enclosed under the alter of the Chapel of Crucifixion is the Rock of Crucifixion on which the Holy Cross of Jesus stood. Pilgrims wait in line to kneel and kiss the stone and rob holy objects on it. We celebrated Mass at the Chapel of Crucifixion.

Kissing the Rock of Crucifixion

Pictures of the Mass at the Chapel of Nailing of the Cross

Adam’s Chapel

Directly below the Chapel of Crucifixion, stand’s the Adam’s Chapel. There is a crack in the rock displayed under glass – it shows how the rock was broken by the earthquake accompanying Jesus’ death. The tradition is that his blood dripped down through that crack to fall upon Adam’s grave, which was believed to have been within the hill of Golgotha (the place of the skull – i.e. Adam’s skull); this is why directly below the altar with the crucifix there is the Chapel of Adam

The Holy Sepulcher (the tomb of Jesus and where he resurrected)

After the Mass, we joined a long queue of pilgrims waiting to enter the tomb of Christ, the Holy Sepulcher itself, the Place of the resurrection. Picture are not allowed inside the tomb so you wont see me kissing the slab on which Christ resurrected

The rock slab from which Christ Resurrected
Coming out after kissing the Holy Sepulcher

Next we went to the Chapel of finding of the true Cross all thanks to St. Helena

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The Chapel of the Finding of the Holy Cross.

According to tradition it was where the Cross of Christ was rediscovered by St. Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, who journeyed to Jerusalem shortly before she died, in approximately 327 AD. St. Ambrose tells the story in words of great poetic force. “Helena arrived and began to visit the holy places, and the Spirit inspired her to seek out the wood of the Cross. She turned her steps to Calvary, and there she said: ‘Here is the battleground, but where is the victor’s trophy? I seek for the banner of salvation and do not find it. Do I sit on a throne, while the Cross of the Lord is buried in the dust? Am I surrounded by gold, and the triumph of Christ by rubble? […] I see that you have done everything possible, O devil, to bury the sword by which you were brought to naught. But Isaac cleared the wells that had been blocked up by foreign invaders, and would not allow the water to remain hidden. Let the ruins give way, then, so that life may appear; let the sword flash forth by which the real Goliath was beheaded. […] What have you achieved, devil, by hiding the wood, save to be defeated once again? You were defeated by Mary, who bore the conqueror; without losing her virginity she gave birth to him who conquered you by being crucified and subjugated you by dying. Today too you will be defeated, so that a woman will lay bare your tricks. She, the holy Mother of God, bore our Lord in her womb; I shall seek out his Cross. She showed that he had been born; I shall show that he has risen from the dead.’”

The story goes on to tell how three crosses were discovered at the bottom of an ancient water-tank, which was transformed into what is now the Chapel of the Finding of the Cross. The Cross of Christ was recognized by the remains of the titulus, the notice that Pilate had ordered to be placed on the Cross; a fragment of this is preserved in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Rome. Some nails were also found; one of these was wrought into the iron crown of the Holy Roman Emperors, now in Monza, Italy; a second is venerated in the Duomo of Milan, and a third is preserved in Rome.

Other Pictures in the Holy sepulcher





In God’s Land: Capernaum, the town of Jesus

11 09 2019

We visited the Capernaum, the town of Jesus. All four gospels report that Jesus visited Capernaum and often attended the synagogue there: In Matthew 4:23, after Herod killed John the Baptist, Jesus left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum. Mark 1:21-28 describes Jesus teaching and healing in the synagogue at Capernaum

“Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles!

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned”.. Matthew 4:14–15

Jesus chose Capernaum because it was the largest city, the richest city, a port city, where everyone has to come. Syrians, Jews, Arabs all used to pass through Capernaum during their travels and the Lord wanted these nations to hear his teachings.

Capernaum had a customs-house and a detachment of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion, a particular centurion who Jesus praised: “I tell you nowhere in Israel have I seen such faith.”

 The praise came when the centurion whose servant was sick asked Jesus to heal his servant, and Jesus said, “I will come.” But the centurion, said, “Lord, I have many men under my authority, I say to one go, and he goes and to another, come and he comes. So just say the word and my servant will be healed.”

 Jesus was moved to praise his act of faith, which we repeat every time we go to Mass.

At the beginning of the Arab period, in the seventh century, the Capernaum, a Christian city went into decline. Two hundred years later it was completely deserted; the buildings collapsed, the area became a heap of ruins, and little by little these were buried. The same earth that hid the location of Capernaum preserved it intact until the nineteenth and twentieth century’s, when the Custody of the Holy Land acquired the property and set in motion the first archaeological excavations.

It’s a two hour drive from Jerusalem and Abu Ghosh, where the Saxum visitors’ center is located.

It was in Capernaum that Jesus performed the following:

1. Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54.

2. Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14.

3. Jesus walking on water in John 6:16-24.

4. Miraculous catch of fish.  Peter caught 153 fishes when he obeyed the Lord, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat”

5. The healing of the paralytic let down through the roof

6. Preached the Beatitudes

7. It was also here that Jesus came after his resurrection, and confirmed Peter as the prince of the Apostles. That day, standing by the shores of the sea of Galilee, but they did not recognize him, and when he asked them if they had caught anything, they said no, he told them to throw their nets on the right side, and they did, then John said, “It’s the Lord, and Peter jumped into the sea. When they came to shore, Jesus had prepared breakfast of fish. After breakfast, he asked Peter, do you love me three times and told him to feed my sheep.

8. The cure of the woman with the hemorrhage

9. The cure of the man with the withered hand

10.  The raising to life of Jairus’ daughter

11. The paying of the Temple tax with a coin found in a fish’s mouth

At Capernaum

1st Century Synagogue where Jesus prayed
Inside the St. Peter’s Church
Peter’s house under the Octagonal St Peter’s Church
A look at the room of Jesus inside St Peter’s house
Sea of Galilee can be seen from the home of St. peter
Peter was a fisher man who lived near the sea
Jesus used to get into Peter boat to preach to the crowd

The house of Peter in Capernaum

Peter welcomed Jesus into his home at Capernaum

While Jesus was at Capernaum, he stayed at the house of Peter his apostle. From there, he carried out his ministry: teaching in the synagogue, and healing the sick. The healing of the paralytic let down through the roof actually took place inside, in one room in Peter’s house. When Capernaum went into ruins, exact location of Peter’s house was also uncertain until 25 years ago, when Italian archeologist uncovered the remnants of a humble house buried beneath the remains of an octagonal Byzantine martyrium church. The remnant dated to the first century B.C.

But what was surprising and perhaps one of the strongest proofs of authenticity that this was Peter’s house was what happened to this house from the first century AD, (that is after the death of Christ). They discovered that the use of this particular house completely changed from a normal residence to a church.

The stone oil jars replaced cooking pots and in one room in particular, the walls were plastered ceiling to wall, quite unusual for a home in those days. Further surprise: as the years went by, the plastered room was renovated and converted into the central hall of a rudimentary church.

The room’s old stone walls were buttressed by a newly built two-story arch that, in turn, supported a new stone roof. The room was even re-plastered and painted over with floral and geometric designs of various colors and more than a hundred graffiti were scratched into the plastered walls. Most of the inscriptions saying things like “Lord Jesus Christ help thy servant” or “Christ have mercy.” They are written in Greek, Syriac or Hebrew and are sometimes accompanied by etchings of small crosses or, in one case, a boat.

This house was used like this for more than 300 years before it was finally replaced in the fifth century by a well-built octagonal martyrium church. Octagonal buildings were built to commemorate very important sites.

Still the inner sanctum of the octagonal building was built directly above the remains of the very room of the first-century house that had the plastered wall and graffiti’s. What modest home, could have a room venerated, turned into a church, with prayers inscription scratched in on the walls, and all subsequent churches built on its foundation if it not for the fact that this was the room of the Son of God.

Ist Century Synagogue at Capernaum close to Peter’s house, where Jesus went to pray
Ist Century Synagogue at Capernaum close to Peter’s house, where Jesus went to pray
Peter’s house

Jesus Preached the Beatitudes in Capahnaum

Next we visited the place where Jesus preached the nine Beatitudes.

On a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee, a sanctuary commemorates the place where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes.  

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy…” Matthew 5:3–12 

We saw that the slopes of the surrounding mountains rises up from the lakeside forming a natural amphitheatre, such that the wind coming from the sea of Galilee could carry the words of Christ to people sitting two or three football fields away. As they listened to Christ, it was the beginning of a new dawn for mankind.

The Beatitudes present a sort of veiled interior biography of Jesus, a kind of portrait of his figure. He who has no place to lay his head is truly poor; he who can say, ‘Come to me for I am meek and lowly in heart’ is truly meek; he is the one who is pure of heart and so unceasingly beholds God. He is the peacemaker; he is the one who suffers for God’s sake. The Beatitudes display the mystery of Christ himself, and they call us into communion with him.”

After the Beatitudes, Jesus compares believers to the salt of the earth and the light of the world. St. John Chrysostom brings out the connection between the two passages as follows: “Those who are meek, modest, and merciful and just, do not keep these virtues for their own profit alone, but pour them out like clear torrents for the benefit of others.

The Beatitudes are a portrait of Jesus.

On the road to the Church of the Beatitudes in Capernaum

Inside the Church of Beatitudes in Caphanaum

Mass at the Church of Beatitudes in Capernaum

We celebrated the Mass on a little canopy outside the gardens in front of the Church of Beatitudes.

Jesus multiplied 5 loaves to feed 5000 people in Capernaum

Tabgha is a zone three kilometers to the west of Capernaum

In Tabgha, we venerated the rock upon which the Lord placed five loaves and two fish, with which he fed the multitudes. Early Christians identified Tabgha as the place where this miracle had been worked and Archaeological work confirmed the accuracy of the tradition that had been handed down, by bringing to light the remains of the altar, the venerable rock which showed that numerous fragments had been removed from it, and a mosaic of a basket of loaves flanked by two fishes.

In the floor a large part of the original mosaic flooring is preserved, with a geometric design in the aisles and nave, and richly figured in the two halves of the transept, showing various kinds of birds and plants found around Lake Gennesaret.

Christ intended to use this Miracle as his opening to initiate his discussion about the True bread of life, pre-figuration of the Eucharist

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.”

So begins the discourse about the Bread of Life, in which our Lord reveals the mystery of the Eucharist. It is so rich that it is considered “the sum and summary of our Faith.”

 “The sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman.”

In the Mass, the holy Sacrifice of the Altar, an offering of infinite value, which perpetuates the work of the redemption in us,  Jesus our Lord comes to meet us, becoming really, truly, substantially present: his Body, his Blood, his Soul and his Divinity.

Inside the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves at Capernaum

Church of the Primacy of Peter

Next we went to the spot where Jesus asked Peter three times “Do you love me?”

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” …John 21:15

Why did Jesus ask Peter three times “Do you love me?” Catholics believe that that was how he made Peter the prince of the Apostles at Capernaum. The spot where this happened is now a Church called the Church of the primacy of Peter. Behind the Church is the sea of Galilee

Outside the Church of the Primacy of Peter at Capernaum

Inside the Church of the Primacy of Peter at Capernaum

We venerated the rock on which Christian tradition say was the rock on which Jesus place the breakfast before his Apostles. The rock is known as “Mensa Christi” and it was right in front of the alter in the Church of the Primacy of peter

Jesus walked on the of the sea of Galilee Capernaum

Next we went for a boat ride in the Sea of Galilee. It was on this lake that Jesus walked on water.

“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.  And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.  But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”… Matthew 14:22-33 Sea of Galilee is also called Lake of Genesaret or Lake Tiberias

Returning from the sea of Galilee in Capernaum





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.





In God’s Land: Ein Kerem and Emmaus Nicopolis 

3 09 2019
Bright and sunny morning at Saxum vistors center.  Joe and Fr. Gabriel ready for the adventures of the day

Sometimes, to reach heaven above, you have to descend and the valley spread before you shall appear as an ancient wonder—Book of Genesis

This saying was on a plaque was on the wall along uphill path that led to a Church  at the village of Ein Kerem. The Church is believed to be the house where the pregnant blessed Virgin Mary visited her pregnant cousin Elizabeth. The Church of the Visitation as it is called is a magnificent church standing on the spot where Elizabeth, on hearing the greeting of Mary, felt the child leap in her womb. This is the site where tradition tells us that Mary recited her song of praise, the Magnificat: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my savior; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me…Luke 1:46–55

Pictures of outside the Church

Pilgrims, young and old, making the steep uphill climb following the footsteps of Mary

Entrance of the Church

Someone said that this is a statue of the Crusaders

Pictures of inside of the Church of the Visitation


We discovered on the walls facing the Church of the Visitation, the Magnificat of the Virgin Mary, written in many languages including 2 Nigerian languages:f Yoruba and Igbo

The Magnificat of Mary in Yoruba, one of the three main Nigerian languages.

The Magnificat in Igbo Language

Valley of Ein Kerem seen looking from the hill of the Visitation

Mass beside the Church of the Visitation

Having arrived a little late, our group could not celebrate Holy Mass inside the Church of the Visitation since another group was already having Mass there, but the Franciscan caretakers of the Church where kind enough to allow us celebrate outside, right next to the Church of the Visitation. It sort of reminded me of being under the mantle of our Lady

Mary’s Spring

Not far from the Church of the Visitation, is a small spring. This small spring where it said that the Virgin Mary stopped to drink while visiting Elizabeth. The water runs there till today and the village actually takes its name from this spring, since Ein Kerem in Hebrew means “spring of the vineyard” Below are pictures of our visit there on the 3rd of September 2019

Spring of Mary
A beautiful Russian Convent, Ein Kerem seen from the Church of Visitation

Church Where St John de Baptist was born

In this same village, just down the road is the birthplace of St John the Baptist. St John the Baptist is the Lord;s immediate forerunner, sent to prepare his way. He surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the gospel, already from his mother’s womb, he welcomes the coming Christ.

Below are pictures of Church of St. John the Baptist

Church of St. John the Baptist
Canticle of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79) printed in different languages on the walls facing the Church of St. John the Baptist. Zechariah was John the baptist father. He saw the arch-Angel Gabriel at the temple who told him that his old wife would bear a son and he must call him John, but he did not believe the angel, so the Angel struck him dumb until it came to pass. Luke 1:5-25
The yellow spot marks the where John the Baptist was born
Touch of birth spot of St. John the Baptist
Still the beautiful Russian orthodox church with golden dome can be seen from the Church of the St. John the Baptist
Russian Convent, Ein Kerem

Emmaus Nicopolis

The last place we visited today was the Emmaus Decapolis, one of the possible sites where our Lord Jesus after his resurrection, walked alongside two of his sad disciple on the road to Emmaus. Below are picture of our visit to Emmaus

Our guide explaining 1st Century Jewish Cemetery lying on the Emmaus route
1st Century Jewish Cemetery
Becoming the unknown disciple walking with Cleopas when our Lord joined them on the road to Emmau




In God’s Land : City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel

2 09 2019

Day 1: Arriving Jerusalem

The flight from Abuja to Addis Ababa was uneventful except for the one and half year old baby girl, who was my co-passenger. She was seated right beside me, looking at me with big round eyes filled with mischief. She was comfortably strapped in seat belt as we were about to take off. I was worried she would become frightened by the roaring of the aircraft as we took off, but she didn’t seem to be bothered at all and was busy making faces at me as the plane took off. She would put the index fingers of both hands in her mouth and show me her teeth and I would do the same and be rewarded with giggles and rolling over to her mother. Her mother, a young woman of about 35 was seated by the window was trying to catch some sleep, grateful that that someone was managing baby.

We had a brief stopover over at Aminu Kano Airport where some passengers disembarked and even more passengers came on board. I hadn’t been to Kano for more than twenty years and I looked out the plane windows, I had a faint hint of nostalgia

I grew up in Kano and left after the riots and religious killings of the 90’s. I was pleasantly surprised that among the disembarking passengers where Chinese and some southerners, men and women.

I couldn’t believe many southerners and even expatriates risked living in this place after all that happened. Perhaps things were not as bad as imagine.

We took the air shortly after and soon the cabin crew mostly young Ethiopian girls where bringing out things for lunch. It was standard flight meals: rice and chicken, even for baby diamond. They had no baby food. In any case the mother was there to help if the baby couldn’t finish.

Midway into the flight, the Diamond’s mom felt ill, complaining of headache. Lucky, I had some medicine which I gave her and told her that perhaps all she needed was to get some sleep. I continued distracting baby so that her mom could sleep, but I don’t think I succeeded.
Situation soon deteriorated as mom soon said she felt nausea. Frightened at the prospect of her going all over me, I volunteered to call on of the hostess and see if a doctor was on board.
The hostess soon returned with a sizzling bottle juice and a glass she poured out some and handed it to mother who sipped it and after a while I asked her how it was. She said she was feeling much better.

They say that time flies when you are having fun, and it flew like a jet

Time flew like a jet propelled rocket and we were soon at Addis Ababa
We started disembarking, mother asked me to help with baby since I had just a small hand luggage. I picked baby and was surprised that she wasn’t very light.

Mother and child where continuing to Thailand and there interconnecting flights their terminal was C5. We hurried to find it, and as we searched, baby was getting heavier and my arms were aching. I began to respect for mothers.

I considered myself fit, swim daily fir 2hr and yet a 1yr old baby was giving me a tough time. We finally found their terminal and sweating profusely, I handed her to mom who thanked me profusely.

I wished them a safe trip and proceeded to look for my terminal for my connection to Tel Aviv. I was standing scrutinizing the airline monitor when someone called my name. Spinning 360, I saw Pius, and the Nigerian contingent. We shook hands and I was grateful that I have found my team. Thanks to carrying that baby, I was exactly at the right place to be found, talk of children’s guardian Angels. In another 4 hours we landed at Tel Aviv airport, Israel. We then drove to the great Land of God: Jerusalem. A land where God lived .

Saxum Center 

After about 5 hr wait at the airport, a bus came to take us to Saxum Conference center. It is located in Jerusalem at Abu Ghosh The Saxum Visitor Center helps pilgrims to deepen their knowledge of the Holy Land through different multimedia resources in order to enrich each person’s Holy Land experience.

Saxum Visitors Center

Day 2 City of David and Hezekiah’s tunnel
After Mass and breakfast, the group went on a tour of the city of Jerusalem by bus.

Here we enter the great city built by King David

At the gate of the city of David

Hezekiah Tunnel

Next, we experience a bit of the old Testament by climbing down the tunnel of Hezekiah. This tunnel was built in search of water for the old Testament Jews by their king, Hezekiah. Below is a the old Testament scriptural verse that talks about this tunnel

“As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?” (2 Kings 20:20)

The Bible verses relating to a tunnel in Hezekiah’s time are these: 2 Kings 20:20

Climbing down Hezekiah’s tunnel





Abducted girl turns 16 in the forest

15 05 2019

by Chinwuba Iyizoba

Leah Sharibu pics

Her eyes were diamonds, sparkling brightly when she laughed. Leah Sharibu was only 14 in February 2018 when she and over a hundred of her companions were abducted from their school in Dapchi, by boko haram, the Islamic terrorist group that has been devastating parts of Northern Nigerian for decades. She celebrated her 16th birthday yesterday, Tuesday 14th May, in Sambisa forest.

They had broken into her school like infernal spirits, eyes red like open wounds; breath, foul and putrid.  Their laughter like clanging steel frightened the captured girls whom they herded like lambs into waiting Lorries and driven to the forest by night.

The girls knew neither where they were nor why they were there. Hunger and tiredness overwhelmed them. Bugs and flies tormented them. They cried until they could cry no more, and realizing that the dirty jackals could never be move by tears, they ceased wailing and collapsed in exhausted sleep.

When they woke, they realized their captors thirst for blood, cruelty and hideousness was just beginning. Soon, thugs ordered them to renounce their Christian faith and accept Islam, in exchange for their freedom. Repulsive fiends! Who would want to worship the god that made you so foul?

The ogres promised the girls freedom and food and many too tired and weak to resist, they broke down and gave in, and gave the yellow fanged jackals all they wanted. Only Leah stood firm. She will not succumb and the trees danced for joy.

Shortly afterward, they released all the yielding girls, except Leah. They then announced via social media that according to their Islamic faith, Leah was now their slave, and that they were permitted to do whatever they liked her.

O infernal vermin, who permitted you to do vile things in the name of God!! You permitted yourselves to do violence to a religion of peace!!

News of the freed girls broke the internet and parents and relatives jubilated, but for Leah’s mother, however, it was a nightmare just unfolding; she wept herself blind for her sweet child still in captivity, and called for help till her voice broke.  For 2 yrs, little seems to have been done, and nothing may be done for many years to come.

Rebecca sharibu

Like the Christian martyrs of old, Lear is ready to die for her faith. Still, how hard it was for her to watch her companions fall one after another, swept by fear, one by one, till she was all alone, like a lone leaf left on a storm swept tree. With no one to lean on, no friend, yet the Angels are with her. Her captors must have howled and jeered with their disembodied voices, flies and venom spewing between their crimson fangs.

They are fools, though. Leah has chosen to serve in heaven rather than to reign in hell, and her love is mightier than their hate, and for that we salute her. Her parent salutes her, her family salutes her, her kinsmen salutes her, her village salutes, and her Nation salutes her.

She may die before any one lifts a finger to save her, yet her blood would water the tree of life for generations of Christians yet unborn. The Christian faith that they seek to extinguish in Nigeria will only grow stronger because of her witness, her blood. If she accepts death in bondage, she would have accepted a temporal bondage that would yield eternal freedom in Heaven and it’s not a bad deal; though few know it.

Her companions testified that she sang daily in her cell praising God’s name.  Her voice carries to heaven breaking the hearts of God even as a busy bee, she flirted around the forest, and did many things to ease the pains of her companion while they were with her.

 But God is wisdom

The angels of God are watching keenly with flaming swords unsheathed. All but a nod from God and the heads of those infernal jackals will roll. Yet, God’s plans are all wise and He will not retract a freedom once given to men though they long misuse it.

They may imprison Lear’s body, but they cannot imprison her soul, dancing like a butterfly, touching us all with suffering. The curtain of night fell upon us the night they took her. The stars are still blinking and the winds still wailing nonstop until we see Leah free. Happy birthday Leah! May the Angels protect and keep you safe. Amen

 

Chinwuba Iyizoba

 








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