Monday, 2 April 2012

The hands that build can also tear down

"Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whome he raised from the dead..."

In today's Gospel reading, St. John goes on to tell how - at dinner - Lazarus's sister, Mary, came in to anoint Jesus' feet with costly ointment and to wipe them with her hair. "The house was full of the scent of the ointment..."

Yesterday's Gospel of the Palms, read in St. Mark's account, tells how Jesus began approach to Jerusalem "at Bethpage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives." The two villages of Bethphage and Bethany are only a short distance apart - it would take minutes to walk between them. But now they are divided by the euphemistically-named "Security Wall." In Bethany it cuts literally across the main street. To travel from Bethany into Jerusalem now requires a diversion of several miles around an illegally-built huge Jewish settlement - and then its Palestinian residents would still have to negotiate the Israeli checkpoint.

In Bethany the church depicts Christ's start of his journey down the Mount of Olives. Inside there's a large rock which he's said to have used to get on the donkey - so large it would probably be easier to get straight on!

But the sense of his Passion continued into our own day is still more graphically depicted by the adjacent Palestinian house, demolished by the Israeli authorities - and the other side of the wall.

"For those who still make Jerusalem a battleground, let us pray to the Lord."

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