Reflection by: Ben Tan

Reflection 

How do you summarise years of history and culture? How do you measure the infinite humility of God, to come down as a baby? 

On day 8th of Sequela Christi, we had the opportunity to visit and meditate on the greatest love story, a predestined love story where God became man. It is where we recognize the essence of the Christian message, which is Love. 

A properly long day today started with an unexpected visit to the church of St. Stephen. It was not on the itinerary, however, it was a pleasant surprise.

Church of St Stephen 

Church of St Stephen

When a building has an uneven floor, this means it would have to be a roof of something else. In the case of St. Stephen, it was on top of a cistern. According to tradition, St. Stephen, also known as St. Etienne was reportedly the first Christian martyr. A martyr in Greek is a witness, he was a person who testifies his faith to the end.

Bethlehem 

Hearing a rundown about the city of Bethlehem

The pilgrims then proceeded to the town of Bethlehem. To the appreciative ears that are bright and awake in the morning. Our beloved guide explained to us that in Bethlehem, there used to be a total of 45,000 people living there, however, the current figures are approximately 30,000 people. This is due to the city being driven by tourism, due to COVID, they were out of jobs and had to move out of the city in hopes of better job opportunities. These people had immigrated to the USA, Canada, Chile, and Santiago. 

Israel Museum – Dead sea scroll 

Friar’s and pilgrims taking a look at the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Israel Museum could be easily mistaken as an ordinary museum. However, it holds a precious treasure, the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Seas Scrolls were founded by a shepherd who had cut them up and sold fragments of them in a market. A priest had found them and recognized the texts that were from the Old Testament and had purchased the bulk of them. Although it is fragmented, 80% of the texts were from Isiah. 

Church of the Nativity 

We then traversed through the town of Bethlehem, where dozens of street merchants were hard-selling their merchandise to starry-eyed pilgrims, to ground zero of the Christian world, the manger. 

O Little town of Bethlehem, was filled with plenty of pilgrims from all walks of life. Queues to enter the birthplace of our Lord were reported to be at least 1 – 2 hours long. By the grace of God, we queued for not more than 30 mins and ended up at the site where the Lord of the universe came to us. 

We had a wonderful mass celebrated by our friar, where we were reminded by Friar John Paul in his homily, that through St. Francis’ teachings, God came to us in poverty and humility, He had reached out and reached down to us. So what would our response be?

A fun fact and a common misconception: The manager is a cave. It is where the people in that time used to stay. The manager is where the animals are kept. 

Cave of St Jerome

Inside the cave of St. Jerome

To round off our day, we visited the cave of St Jerome, located in the same area. This is where St Jerome translated the Bible from Greek and Hebrew to Latin. 

A whirlwind of a day, but an extremely eventful and insightful one. The emotions and experience of visiting the birthplace of Christ. Personally, it is one of the most prominent places where I felt the tangibility of the Bible, the bedtime stories that were told, and the Christmas Carols that were sung, all coming to life. It is truly an experience I will never forget. May we continue striving for the same humility and poverty that the eternal king has modeled for us. 

St. Francis and St. Clare, Pray for us.