A new look at turning the other cheek

by Mac Lacy 27. June 2010 19:00

Wisam Salsaa was our guide for most of this trip.  He is Palestinian and works out of Bethlehem.  He is a Christian.  On our way into Jerusalem from Jericho, he brought up an age-old teaching of Jesus, but added this caveat:

"When Jesus said 'if someone strikes you on the right cheek, offer them the left', he was talking about the Romans.  The Roman soldiers would not use their right hand against you because the right hand is their best hand.  They would use their left hand to strike you because you are not their equal.  So when Jesus said to turn the left cheek to them, he was talking about rejecting their superiority.  This forces them to use their right hand to strike your left cheek.  In doing so, you force them to treat you as an equal.  You were refusing to acknowledge their superiority by doing this."

It made me think about his teaching on forgiveness.  If you forgive someone who does something against you--how much can they hurt you?  Forgiveness becomes a powerful act of overcoming a transgression against you. In a way you are refusing to let that person harm you. On this trip, you begin to realize what a revolutionary figure this man Jesus was and how the downtrodden must have been drawn to him.  And how the powerful must have despised him.

These three girls reside in Nablus, a conflict-scarred town that is almost exclusively Muslim. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet and will return for the resurrection.

This chairmaker works in Nazareth Village, a very authentic reconstruction of life there in Jesus' time.

Mosaics from throughout the world adorn the courtyard at Basilica of the Enunciation in Nazareth, which is built at the site of Mary's home. This mosaic is from Spain.

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Traveling Through Palestine

To each his own

by Mac Lacy 27. June 2010 15:57

To anyone who comes here, there may be a moment of personal epiphany or revelation, I would guess.  Many are most moved by the historic sites--the place of Jesus's birth in Bethlehem, or his passion in Jerusalem.  The Garden at Gethsemane, or maybe Nazareth, where he grew up and was eventually shunned.

For me, it was Galilee.  Specifically, the Sea of Galilee.  We had moved from land that is brown and dry, with mostly olive trees and terraced hillsides, into a valley that became vibrant and green.  For me, it was easy to imagine Jesus teaching the multitudes here on these hillsides surrounding this beautiful lake, or sea, if you prefer.  There was a breeze that came across the Mount of Beatitudes and relieved the heat that is so prevalent here in summer. To sit and listen in this realm makes a lot of sense to me.

On this beautiful day, I could see boats, probably fishermen, down on that water where Jesus found many of his disciples.  Our guide spoke of caravans of immigrants moving through this land as they have done for centuries.  This was a crossroads for many cultures, and many of these people were drawn to this man who spoke in parables and embodied peace.

"Almost 70 percent of Jesus's ministry took place around the Sea of Galilee," our guide said.  "It is here that he calmed the storm, and it is here that he walked on the water."

It was here, for me, in the outdoors, that I could imagine why he might come and spend so much of his ministry.  But then again, it's these waters and hillsides that seemed sacred for me--as sacred as a church or tomb might be to another.

It was in the panoramic landscape of Galilee that I was most able to conjure images of Jesus' life.

The Sea of Galilee was a resplendent contrast to so much of the arid areas of Palestine.

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Traveling Through Palestine

Gallivanting through Galilee

by Eliza Myers 20. November 2009 03:27

Two things I would have never thought to put together are Dean Martin and the Sea of Galilee. However, I found myself experiencing both at the same time during a ride around the legendary lake (it’s a lake even though it’s referred to as a sea) on a replica of first century vessel. The wooden boat looked the part with its curved shape and simple design, so the captain chose some music to fit the scene like Hebrew songs and religious tunes, along with some classic Dean Martin to encourage dancing. As we glided along, the boat excursion had moments of fun with impromptu karaoke and moments of reflection when we passed certain mountains attached to Biblical stories, such as the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave one of his most famous sermons.


The Sea of Galilee has been the running theme of the day from the moment I woke up in Tiberias with the body of water in view until the boat ride this evening. Since Jesus spent most of his time preaching around the lake where he first recruited his twelve followers, the area is a pilgrim’s paradise with churches, gardens and archeological ruins from the time of Christ at most stops. I visited some of the main religious sites at the peaceful Mount of Beatitudes, Tagbha's mosaic-filled church dedicated to the multiplication of the fishes and loaves miracle, and Capernaum where Jesus began his ministry. At the Church of the Primacy of Peter, I joined other excited visitors intent on wading in the water so filled with history.

Wading in the Sea of Galilee

Mount of Beatitudes

Pilgrims' Boat ride

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