Mount Nebo, June 18, 2019
Standing on Mt. Nebo, overlooking the Plains of Canaan, it’s hard to imagine how Moses could have reached so close to the Promise Land, to observe from the Mountain what had been promised him -- and the Israelites. But Moses does not move beyond Mt. Nebo – he could only again stretch out his arm, but this time to designate the land to which God had directed him and the tribes of Israel. Moses died without setting foot in the land of Canaan (Deut. 34:6).
Mt. Nebo represents one of the most powerful biblical stories of freedom, regret, incertitude, disappointment. To experience a lifetime journey, an arduous trek through the desert, to reach one’s destination, led by God, and to die before even experiencing the reward of years of sacrifice and fidelity, how so very human! Moses’ story is the story of those who follow God. Moses like Jesus after him acts in conformity to His divine will; the fundamental difference between the Old and New Covenantis that we place ourselves before God and His Mercy, thanks to His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus stands for us – He stands in our place.
Jordan reflects the desert journey, years of wandering, the call to trust and hope. And God leaves us with leaders who are chosen to carry out His will – for us. This has been the role of the prophets, Jesus Christ as mediator, and the priest who mediates in persona Christi.
The Church dedicated to Moses reminds the pilgrim travelling through Jordan, Moses walked these hills. A Byzantine Church from the 4th century along with a monastery, serves to commemorate the life, mission and death of Moses. The mosaic covered floor remains.
Honouring God’s prophet who saves the slaves from drowning in the Red Sea, Moses points to someone far greater, the Son of God, who saves us from sin, by offering his Blood. And the Promised land is more than Canaan; the land Christ promises us is Paradise.
Al Karak, June 17, 2019
Al Karak, an ancient town in Jordan, is known for its fortified summit which dates to the Moabite and Nabatean periods. During the period of Byzantine Christianity Al Karak was also the seat of the Bishop. The castle standing on the summit was constructed during the 12-century Crusader period. As I examine the layers of bricks, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, and stable, what stands out is the strategic position of this Crusader fortress, looking across the Moab plains, identifying threats in the vicinity.
Al Karak has been inhabited by ancient Christian communities dating to the time of Jesus Christ and remained predominantly Christian until the Muslim penetration into the region in the 7th century. The fortresses served the Crusaders to defend the expansion of the Jerusalem Kingdom. The Crusader expeditions were launched from Roman Catholic Christendom as the Byzantine Empire and its Church had fallen to Islam. The responsibility was left to the Roman pontiff and the Western monarchs to launch and support the Crusades. The holy sights associated with Jesus and His Mother, and vulnerable pilgrims visiting these sights, required protection.
Marj Al-Hamam, June 15, 2019
Martyrs of Jordan Church, a Roman Catholic Church located in Marj Al-Hamam, seven kilometres south of Amman, responds to the needs of Amman’s Roman Catholic community. The Church is situated at a Christian “intersection”: from Queen Alia International Airport to Madaba and Kerak to the south, and the Dead Sea and Jordan River to the west. The Church serves the 350 families extending from Queen Alia International Airport to the wider district of Amman, also known as the Seventh Circle.
The Church falls under the ecclesial jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Jerusalem and received funds for further expansion. Construction on the Church reflects the significantly added space of worship space for Amman’s Roman Catholics.
The Church serves especially the faithful working at Royal Jordanian Airlines, in the Jordanian Army, and other services. The parish itself was established over thirty years ago, in 1986. The Church compound also includes space for the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition.
Fr. David Bellusci, O.P.
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