Andrea and María have lived in the community in the Ecce Homo Guesthouse, Jerusalem with Sisters Bernadette, Trudy and Rita who have received us with a warm welcome. Ecce Homo is a special community, since we eat and share our meals with volunteers and the community of the Chemin Neuf. Also it was very significant for us to work in the guest house, since we could share, speak and listen to our guests, volunteers and staff. In this way, we could learn about their faith traditions and cultures, specially the Muslim.
The Sion community, the Chemin Neuf Community, students, volunteers and guests pray together every Friday in silence, in the Basilica for peace in the world, especially for Jerusalem:
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, prosperity for your homes! Peace within your walls, prosperity in your palaces!” (Psalm 122, 6-7).
We have lived a beautiful sharing and outings together. We went to visit Nahla’s family who prepared a delicious Lunch for us and we enjoyed and being with her family. Nahla is a Muslim woman, who has worked at reception in our house for many years. Her father and mother lived in the convent many years ago. Her father, Fahkri worked at Ecce Homo for 60 years and was a tremendous help to the sisters. It was very special for us because we were all together Muslim and Christian at one table celebrating the feast of Eid al-Adha, which is one of the holiest celebrations in Islam and marks the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia
“How good, how delightful it is to live as brothers and sisters all together!”(Psalm 133, 1)
We also went to a Muslim wedding; Leila’s daughter was married last September. We appreciated her invitation and the sharing with her family too. Leila is a Muslim woman, who has been working at Ecce Homo for 10 years.
Moreover, Andrea and María had the opportunity to be assisting in the English Biblical Program as interns. We studied, reflected and deepened our understanding of the Gospel of Mathew and of the scriptures. We had many encounters with the people of this Land, with Jews, Muslims and Christians in their different feasts and through just simply talking with them and learning of their life stories. It certainly was a good time to be here and to celebrate the feasts of Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
In addition, we joined Galilee Pilgrim to Nazareth, Magdala, Caesarea, Sepphoris and the Lake of Galilee. We enjoyed visiting all these places and it was a beautiful experience since we had time for prayer and mass every day. Nathan, who was our guide for four days is a Jewish man who explained and reflected so well on the texts of the Bible. In all the places that we visited we had the opportunity to interact with the group in listening, walking and prayer together.
So, we truly bless God for these experiences, for the sisters who have such beautiful ministries in the Ecce Homo´s community. We have learned a lot and how it is the live in the old city. We bless God for every face that we saw and came to know in our house and on the street. Jerusalem is the heart of prayer for many religions and we discovered God’s face in walking on the street and in every corner. We saw people bring their prayers with faith, love and peace, so we ask God that He can hear their intentions for their families and lives.
Andrea Chacón Carmona, Novice NDS
Community St. John in Montana
October 17th, 2017