The old city streets have started to become more and more crowded, just a few days before Easter. While Jerusalem is still filled with pilgrims, the last Lenten pilgrimage took place in the church of the Lithostrotos on April 5. Every year, the same events take place but the living faith and emotion that accompany the faithful, who are always different, make every celebration new. During Lent, we were reminded of Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem at the Dominus Flevit , the prayer at Gethsemane, when Jesus was tortured by the soldiers and when a crown of thorns was placed on his head at the Flagellation. In the pilgrimage to Bethany, some episodes from Jesus’ life, such as Lazarus’ resurrection, were commemorated. At the Lithostrotos instead “we contemplate Jesus when he accepts his condemnation and offers his life in sacrifice for us, and as he embraces the cross and goes to Golgotha, where he will be crucified,” said Fr. Matteo Munari, of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum.
In his homily, the friar also spoke about the devil’s temptation to push Jesus not to do everything that the Father asked. And yet Jesus obeyed the Father, even in the most difficult of requests. “Today we are here to celebrate Jesus' condemnation, which in itself is a defeat. But here today we we celebrate the Jesus’ victory, who by dying on the cross for us, conquers all of our sins, all of our evil, and mends the distance between God and man.” Fr. Matteo Munari invited everyone to keep two sentiments in their hearts: joy for the love of God who made himself present with the sacrifice of his son and the bitterness of his sentence.
The small church of the Lithostrotos was crowded with friars, some pilgrims and many nuns from various orders.
A moment of fraternal sharing in the refectory of the Monastery of the Flagellation concluded the afternoon, with refreshments, sweets and hot chocolate.
“It is that ‘here’ that makes all the difference,” said Sister Gabriella. “...that ‘here’ when you are in the holy places and you read, like today, ‘Here Jesus was exposed to the crowd, innocent and condemned, rejected and humiliated.’” A sister from a different religious order said that she has been living in Jerusalem for several years and has not missed any of the Lenten pilgrimages, “because preparing for Easter in this way is really great.” A young man named Giacomo, instead, talked about the joy of discovering the celebrations in the holy places for the first time, but he is not really a pilgrim, since he has come here for work for a few months. “Some friends in Jerusalem have told me that they will return to their countries for Easter, and yet it is amazing to be here where it all took place during this liturgical season. It is a grace to experience Lent and Easter here,” said Sister Gabriella.
Remembering Jesus' tears in order to relive his passion
Commemorating Saint Lazarus: the Lenten pilgrimage to Bethany
Christ the water that quenches thirst: the third Sunday of Lent at the Holy Sepulcher