Fr. Bob Holmes, dubbed “Hobo” is a Basilian priest who has given the order extraordinary credibility. A Christian Peacemaker he has seen life lived under occupation and danger in Iraq, Palestine and Israel. This summer he is taking anybody on a tour who wants to see the real Israel as it gradually sinks into the morass of a pariah state, one on the wrong side of history.President Obama actually warned the powerful Israeli lobby group AIPAC as it is in denial. The world has caught up to the oppressive state.
Sunday, Hobo said mass for our small community and fortuitously the second reading was from Peter.
Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5 like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus
Hobo made reference to the “living stones in Palestine.
I wrote of these on my return from Israel with him
Theologian Jaroslav Pelikan distinguishes tradition from traditionalism. Authentic tradition incarnates “the living spirit of the dead.” To become Isaiah for today one must enter the spirit and intent of the ancient prophet.His worldview has vanished and the context has radically changed.To simply repeat his words is to miss the meaning. As the wag said, any text without a context is a pretext.
Traditionalism on the other hand is “the dead spirit of the living.” This rancid nostalgia thinks that a return to the past in dress, language and worldview will place one in the heart of tradition. The 50s ( or the times of Isaiah or Jesus) can not be relived when the whole gestalt has changed. We live in a whole new cosmology.To simply repeat is to betray.
Fr. Holmes pilgrimage was in the spirit of tradition.Sadly we saw many sad nostalgia Christian tours on a trip to the past.They visited churches, grottoes, sea shores and lifeless antiquities in the hope of finding Jesus. One might call these ventures “the dead stones” tour.These are fairly typical of these uber pious ventures which clog the arteries of Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the tourist season.
Indeed it was a thrill for us to walk the shores of the sea of Galilee, the provenance of the synoptic gospels; it was great to visit Caesarea and Capernaum and indeed Jerusalem.Their connection to Jesus is incontestable. However they are not “the true custody terra sancta” as Galilean Archbishop Elias Chacour reminded us. Those trips no matter how interesting in the end are dead ends to a moribund Jesus. We wanted the living Christ and it was Jesus himself who told us where to look.
It is Matthew’s famous last judgment scene where Jesus directs us to look for him today.” For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'(Matt 25:35,6)
We discovered once again the true locus of divine revelation in the marginalized lives this time of the Palestinian people living under occcupation.This was the pearl of great price, the true holy land. It did not reside in lifeless antiquities or sacred places. It was in the “living stones” of those on the margins, the oppressed descendants of the apostles.