Mass at the Franciscan Cenacle in Mount Zion
Theme: The Wilderness
Today, after a very early breakfast, we celebrated 8AM Mass at the Church of the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Following this, we traveled to the Judean Wilderness where we took a cable car ride to the ruins of Herod’s Palace Fortress atop Masada! Here the Zealots chose mass suicide rather than surrender to the Romans at the time of the fall of Jerusalem. We visited the ruins of the fortifications, reservoirs for water, Herodian palaces, synagogues, and Roman temples and baths all before a group stop for lunch.
When everyone was finished with lunch, we visited the Dead Sea and got to enjoy a panoramic view of Ein Gedi. At this very location was where David hid from Saul’s wrath and the locale of the Song of Songs. Everyone also got the opportunity to float in the Dead Sea (photos coming soon)! After concluding our adventure exploring this area, we then visited Qumran, where the hidden library of the Essenes (Dead Sea Scrolls) was found in 1947. Currently, they are displayed at the Israel Museum.
On our return to Jerusalem, we stopped at the baptismal site on the River Jordan, where there will be the opportunity for the renewal of baptismal vows (Mark 1:9-11). Following this, we continued to visit Jericho, home of Joshua, Elijah’s spring, Jesus’ miracles, and the Mount of Temptation. Near the center of the city, a centuries-old sycamore tree recalls the incident in which the tax collector Zacchaeus, too short to see over the crowd, climbed a sycamore’s branches in order to see Jesus.
Suggested Scripture: Mark 14:32-42, Matt. 4:1-11, Luke 18:35, Luke 19:1-10