Friday, June 14, 2013 | By: Jake

Bowing Down

Back in March for my Spring Break, I went on a pilgrimage with Notre Dame's Campus Ministry. Below is the continued reflection of my journey:

Our talk with Abu Jacobs and the graduate from Notre Dame was very intriguing, and made me aware of how ignorant I was of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although it was meant to be more of a dialogue,  I think that we were so ignorant of the whole situation that we just wanted to keep hearing more...without really being able to add any new points to the conversation.

One thing that did make me happy was that these two Palestinian Catholics did not want Palestine to control the territory of the Holy Land either. All they were seeking was peace, and in their eyes, the conflict wouldn't be any better if the roles just reversed. (For those quite unfamiliar with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I strongly encourage Elias Chacour's Blood Brothers.) in addition to this, he talked about the use of humor when trying to ease the conflict, which I think is definitely true.

We finished up our conversation and then were on our way to the Church of the Nativity, seen by many as the place of Christ's birth. As we walked towards the Church, we stopped at a local shop to get falafel, which was absolutely delicious and a lot better than the Middle Eastern restaurant by Notre Dame (no offense to them!). We sat outside the Church of the Nativity, sitting on the side of the street, as we watched tour after tour group go through the small door to the Church. 

Although no one is exactly sure that this is the spot where Christ was born, we do know that Christians have seen this as the site for more than 1600 years, which makes it pretty cool. This is the same site where Jerome translated the Bible and that billions of Christians have travelled to. 

When I first applied to go on the pilgrimage, the Church of the Nativity was one of my main interests. I saw so many photos of people placing their hands through a dark hole, said to be the exact spot where Jesus was born. Again and again, I had pictured myself having some deep, spiritual experience at this spot. I was prepared to have my mind blown.

As we got closer, I realized just how small this "small door" to the Church was. Apparently, back then, people used to go through the giant church doors on their horses. They ended up making the doors smaller and smaller, and now it's so small, that you actually have to bow down in order to get through it. It's clearly obvious that there is no way to get a horse through the door now, but what's also cool is the humility that this symbolizes. You're entering into a holy space and we are all inferior to Christ.

It was pretty awesome seeing hundreds of tourists and pilgrims run through, all bowing down and showing respect to the Creator and as our pilgrimage group walked through, I, too, bowed down to the Almighty...


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