by Fr. Nicholas A. Marziani, Jr., D.Min.
Read an interesting piece in the Adventure & Travel section of the just-before-Christmas weekend edition of my favorite daily rag, the venerable Wall Street Journal. Entitled “Divine Intervention”, I wasn’t sure what to make of it beyond the large photo of the rocky slopes of the Sea of Galilee and the sheet-like surface of the blue waters of that body of water with such biblical significance spread out before it.
Actually I had earlier just tossed the article aside during that busy weekend figuring I’d get to it later, which I only did on this MLK, Jr. holiday.
The author, Tara Isabella Burton, had chronicled a three-day, forty mile pilgrimage along a rather unique path from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth to Capernaum, nearly at the tip of the large lake’s northern shore. What was most intriguing about this travelogue was that the author did not so much highlight the usual and expected waymarks along the trail as the unexpected degree of hospitality she received from total strangers as she made her way to her destination.
Christians, Muslims, Jews – even hybrid Druse sectarians – extended all manner of food, gratis short “booster” rides, and good cheer as she progressed toward her goal. I can remember a similar experience when I took my first trip to the Holy Land, and mind you, that was in 1974, just a year after the Yom Kippur War.
In the traditional mores of the Middle East, you feed and shelter even your enemies, if necessity so indicates; today’s fanatical radicals in that troubled part of the world share NOTHING in common with the larger historic cultural norms of the region.
Which makes the article’s title, “Divine Intervention”, all the more poignant. Yes, it takes a God to bind together, to whatever degree it is possible, people who otherwise might be incessantly at each others’ throats.
Funny, one possible root derivation of the word “religion” carries the implication of binding or tying together. Humans to God, humans among each other, whatever. Too bad some think that religious faith is necessarily a toxic influence in human life – it’s the exact opposite, unless, of course, as is true of anything, it is abused. Now if we can just find a way to avoid “faith abuse”, why, we could have Heaven on Earth. Hmmm, sounds like a plan. A Divine Plan, indeed.
Peace to all upon your own Way, Fr. Nick