Gentle Ben in the Holy Land

My latest piece for Pajamas Media is up this morning, entitled Pope Brings his Gentle Touch to the Holy Land.

An excerpt: Israel’s unending struggle is written into her very name, Isra-El: “struggles with God.” Since its formation in 1948, the world has watched the tumult of the modern state of Israel and one thing remains unclear: is the “struggle” between Israel herself and God, or between Israel and the world, with God beside her?

Either way, that Israel will always struggle should by now be understood, whether viewed through the lenses of history or scripture.

Pope Benedict XVI has been traveling about the Holy Land as a “pilgrim of peace” and each step — whether in Jerusalem or Bethlehem or Nazareth — has been a necessarily careful one, as though the built-up sludge of incessant struggle may hide a stumbling block. The squabbling children of Abraham who populate this land cry out for just resolutions to their conflicts, then wearily reject them all. Like nesting birds nicking shiny things, they grab at anything that offers a gleam of support for their staked claim and reject what does not shine their way.

Read it all here.

I had a little fun with this, making two small allusions to scripture that only New Testament readers might recognize. See if you can catch them.

This relates a little bit to this piece I wrote about believers and why they will always have difficulty coming together.

No, the re-design I mentioned last night has not happened yet, but my warnings from last night are still in place! Have a good one!

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    In the past, I’ve never had too much desire to go to the Holy Land.

    First, I can go see Jesus at my nearest Catholic church, and I receive Him at Mass. So the need to reach out and touch Him in the historical places is not as great as it is in the case of the saints and martyrs. Going to places like Rome, you can palpably sense a connection to the martyrs who were killed there and the saints buried there (such as seeing the bones of St. Peter himself in the scavi of the Basilica).

    Second, you have the whole violence thing going on there. Not only between the Palestinians and Israelis, but between Christians — how many times must we witness the spectacle of fist fights breaking out at the Holy Sepulchre??

    However, this trip did spur an interest in going to the Holy Land a bit. I can still see and touch and experience Jesus quite closely at Mass, but as with the martyrs and saints in Rome, the Holy Land has something that isn’t available here — the ability to touch and see those places where Mary has been. When Pope Benedict got to Nazareth, I for the first time felt the urge to go to the Holy Land. (and it helps that the site of the Annunciation isn’t heavily built-over like the sites in Jerusalem) The “hidden life” of Jesus is also there, not to mention Joseph.

    (However, I don’t much like the banners quoting the Koran that militant Muslims have put up near the Christian sites in Nazareth and elsewhere.)

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    So I’ve been keeping an eye on the comments over at Pajamas Media. Also added my two cents.

    I’m telling you, folks must think his name is Benedict Bush, the way he gets slammed from every side.

    A nicer, sweeter, smarter, more brilliant guy you will never meet, and filled with the Holy Spirit too. So I suppose we should expect that the world would treat him with contempt.