We just returned from a two week sojourn to Israel/Palestine.
We visited people and places the ordinary “pilgrimages” never dare to go.
Most of these church tours are considered Disneyworld events or as some call them “fluff tours.”They miss the many splendored thing, the Holy Spirit of resistance in the beleaguered Palestinian people. These tours are in a word,disgraceful.They reflect an inanimate or dead theology, one which substitutes the holy places for the holy people,the ongoing incarnation of Christ exactly where Jesus told he would be found: in the crucified lives of the poor of Palestine.This is the true locus of divine revelation. These people are living under a similar occupation to that which Jesus endured.
Some people in our pilgrimage got very depressed watching these “spiritual”tours which manage to bypass the human in favour of stones,caves and churches.As Abuna(Archbishop) Elias Chacour says these are not the true terra sancta.The lifeless antiquities which may or may not have some connection with Jesus sadly have pride of place over the suffering occupied lives of Palestinians. Most of these pilgrims one should assume are good people but sadly led by “blind guides” promoters of a moribund theology which evades history.
These nostalgia tours are rooted in the past.They have little contemporary spiritual relevance. Their avoidance of a people so desperately needing solidarity plays into the hands of the occupying power and simply extends the long suffering of the people of Palestine.