I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord”: Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
These are the words of Psalm 122:1-2; words that have been imprinted in my mind. They were also at the head of the letter inviting me to Jerusalem, to the Swedish Theological Institute. Although I had read Psalm 122 several times before, now it was vivid, not conceptual.
Jerusalem – the Old City – is walled. Today, there are 9 gates that lead into the city: Damascus, New, Jaffa, Zion, Tanners, Dung, Herod’s (also known as Flowers or Perachim in Hebrew), Lions (also known as St. Stephen’s), and the Eastern (or Golden) which is sealed. As the name indicates, it is believed that Stephen, the first Christian martyr was dragged outside Lions Gate and stoned to death. The Golden Gate is very special too, because, according to Ezekiel 44:3 “the Prince (the messiah) will enter through this gate and he will eat bread before the Lord”.
There we were, 12 of us from different countries, standing “within your gates, O Jerusalem”. It could not be more surreal, yet it was all true.
That was our group, but the multitude that was in Jerusalem seemed to have come from every corner of the globe. Even though the majority of these were tourists – well, even pilgrims are tourists in many ways – the words of Isaiah 2:3 were live in my mind: “Many peoples shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths”; For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”.
Yes, it was surreal that this reality was right there before my eyes. The prophet Micah had the exact words in 4:2. There was some controversy too, with some Christians with their application of Zechariah 14:16 which says: “Then all who survive of the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the festival of booths”.
At that moment, what mattered to me, was that I was in Jerusalem. It was like something that dropped from heaven since I had nothing to do with its reality in my life.
Add to that my – and my eleven colleagues – new address: 58 Rehov Ha-Nevi’im – Street of the Prophets – and the ensuing experience could not be more exceptional. Behind us was the historic neighborhood of Mea Shearim.
- Jerusalem above my highest joy (joelmlayblog.wordpress.com)
- Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 122 (stjoeofoblog.wordpress.com)
- Setting my sights on Jerusalem (diaryofacatholictheologystudent.wordpress.com)