Holy Land Pilgrimage

A Garden in the Light of a Full Moon

March 14, 2020

I gazed out into the depths of the evening sky at the white, luminous full moon, high in the sky over Jerusalem. Recently, we traveled to Gethsemane, where Jesus, quite possibly raised his eyes up, as well, to this same moon some two thousand years ago, as His Passion commenced.

“He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; by his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5.) Perhaps you recognize this verse – it appeared on a blank screen, after a bolt of lightning and a powerful crack of thunder, to open the epic Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ. It then cuts directly to Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Garden of Gethsemane is located at a lower portion of the Mount of Olives (where Christ would later ascend to Heaven). Gethsemane is derived from a Hebrew word, and it means “olive oil press.” Truly, there are many ancient, contorted olive trees in the garden there. Their roots could very well have been initiating life under the soil on the eve of Christ’s agony in the garden and experts believe them to be 1500 years old.

Passover is the major Jewish feast that was being celebrated at the same time when Christ began his Passion. It lasts 7 days and always occurs during a full moon in the Spring.

We celebrated morning mass gathered around “the rock of agony” in the dimly lit Church of All Nations. It is a flat rock where Jesus prayed. As I progress through Lent and enter the final phase of the Holy Land Pilgrimage, I give God thanks for the wonderful blessings of this somber visit. Two ideas come to mind to deepen this Lenten experience: read Jesus of Nazareth – Part II: Holy Week by Pope Benedict XVI and watch The Passion of the Christ (I stole that idea from my older brother). Have a Blessed Lent.

Michael Klatt
Archdiocese of Chicago

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