Yesterday was the feast day of St. Joseph, but since it was a Sunday, we remember him today, along with St. Luke’s story of 12-year-old Jesus upsetting Mary and Joseph by lingering in the temple to listen to the teachers and ask questions.
The gospel discloses that everyone was amazed at Jesus’s insights. I’m amazed at his questions and listening. Especially in our age of certitude, this is good modeling, especially for those pictured here — members and friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, setting off this afternoon on a 11-day Lenten pilgrimage in the land of the Holy One.
As Jesus did, we know what we know. But with eyes and ears open, we journey to lands where people are sure about everything, except how to live with one another in peace, freedom, justice, and love. This is of course true of most places. It feels sharper in Israel and Palestine. Because we love them. Because our Lord lived, taught, died, and rose there. Because for all who follow the Abrahamic road, it is the center of the world.
But not the center of the road, at least for now. As Israeli far-right governments go, the current coalition is the furthest. Its proposed takeover of the judicial branch has reawakened the center. After listening and asking questions, millions have taken to the streets. They don’t want to be ruled by the settler and ultra-orthodox parties.
Cynics may say that it’s about time. Since the second intifada two decades ago, Israel’s peace movement has been largely quiescent when it comes to the injustices Arab Palestinians suffer under military occupation. But now illiberality is coming for everyone, as it is always trying to do. Pray that these days will beget a new movement for liberty and justice for all, Israeli and Palestinian alike, in keeping with Israel’s founding values, which time had not forgotten after all.
As for the EDLA 25, we’ll be listening and asking questions in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth, walking in the very places Jesus spread abundance and love amid want and injustice. The photo shows most of us in January at the home of pilgrim Kathy Hannigan O’Connor and me, aka your episcopal residence. By Tuesday evening, we’ll be all together in one place, St. George’s Pilgrim Guest House in east Jerusalem, in the tender care of Qumri Pilgrimages. We’ll have the privilege of listening and questioning time first thing Wednesday with Archbishop Hosam Rafa Naoum of the Diocese of Jerusalem.
Pray for us — as we will for you. My custom when visiting Jerusalem is to invite Facebook friends to send names of all for whom you are praying. First names only, please, and without saying why. God knows. Send them to me via Facebook Messenger (my usual ban on Messenger is hereby lifted for this purpose).
Near the end of our pilgrimage, I’ll invite the pilgrims to pray over your names. Then I’ll tuck them in the Western Wall, between the massive blocks of limestone that Herod laid and Jesus perhaps even saw, including on that day he showed us how our God in Christ listens and learns.