Photo: People visit the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)
Bishop Murphy continues to share his pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land through his blog. You can read previous posts here.
Luke tells us that when the angel Gabriel left Mary after she had said yes to being the Mother of God, Mary left in haste to the hill country to Elizabeth, her kinswoman who was six months pregnant. This morning we bishops made our way to Ein Karem, the home of Elizabeth and Zachary where Mary had gone in haste. I did not move as quickly as she did. It is a steep climb up about 100 steps and, once you get there there are another 50 to get to the chapel. The last time I did thus I recall I made a vow that it would be the last time. And here I am again, a little out of breath.
But not for long. To celebrate Mass at the chapel of the Visitation of Mary with Elizabeth is to experience spiritual joy. Shared with my brother bishops, the Mass we celebrated brought us closer to the Mother of God, the Daughter of Zion who brought the son in her womb, Jesus, to Elizabeth and the son in her womb, John the Baptist. What a beautiful way for us to begin the day!
And begin it we did. First there was a meeting with two men from the Religious Affairs section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Then an inter-religious group who shared their hopes for peace. One of them was right on target when he told us that the Middle East does not need so much a coalition of the willing as it needs a coalition of peace. We pledged to urge the American Administration to do more to bring about a lasting peace than their current attempts have indicated. Last evening we met with a true man of peace, president emeritus of Israel, Shimon Peres. His only wish for the New Year is for peace.
Now we had two more moments on our docket. At a small restaurant in the Botanical Gardens we shared pizza with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, a Brooklyn boy, who had been Rabbi of Lincoln Center Synagogue till in 1983 he moved to Israel. He lives in a settlement and is a leader in inter-religious dialogue, living and action. His words were inspiring for us all.
Good as the rabbi is, our visit to Yad Vashem was a turning point for us as a group. This memorial to the Holocaust is one or the most compelling places on earth. Debby Spero, daughter of my friend, Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, was our tour guide. To my profound joy, the 91-year-old rabbi and his wife joined us. Their daughter, Debby, is the best guide at Yad Vashem. We were instructed, touched spiritually, moved emotionally and grew together as we bishops looked at the ugly face of Nazism and the horrendous tragedy of the Holocaust. And with us was a survivor whose life was present in that memorial, my friend, Rabbi Schonfeld.
It is late. I must say night prayer and go to bed. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Be with me in that great prayer othat Jerusalem may know peace, a peace for all the people of the Holy Land.