Last January, a course titled “The Last Days of Jesus in Jerusalem” was held at Ecce Homo in Jerusalem, marking the return face-to-face classes to at the Sion Centre for Biblical Formation (CBF) and a relaunch of the CBF’s biblical formation programme in Spanish in collaboration with CERJUC (Centro de Estudios Bíblicos y de Relaciones Judeo Cristianas) of San José.
The course was attended by eighteen people from Nicaragua, Brazil, and Costa Rica, who participated in classroom sessions, visited archaeological sites and religious shrines, and engaged in joint reflections and religious celebrations.
During the first week, the group focused on learning more about the historical experience of Jesus during his passion and death. They walked through the Old City following the stations of the Via Dolorosa, which provided them with a tour of first-century Jerusalem at the time the gospels recounted the passion of Jesus.
The course provided an opportunity to learn not only through scientific and faith-based examination of the Gospels but also through speaking with people from the Jewish and Islamic traditions. This allowed the group to broaden their religious horizons and engage in interfaith dialogue.
Trips to places like Nazareth – where the group had a delicious falafel and shawarma lunch – as well as visits to Masada, the Dead Sea, and Qumran allowed the group to journey back in time to the world where the biblical stories emerged, rooting the stories they read in the time when they happened. The visit to the Lithostrotos and the conversation with the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion about the history of the house and the Congregation in Jerusalem provided the group with a broad perspective on the work of the sisters of Our Lady of Sion in the Holy Land.
The trip to Galilee, the group singing and dancing on the boat in the middle of the lake, and the visits to places like the Mount of Beatitudes and the cities of Magdala and Sepphoris, with their synagogues and centres of meeting and reflection, allowed the group to make an intellectual and religious journey of reflection and learning. In the words of the students, the experience was transformative, the enchantment of the land magical, the hospitality of the Congregation generous, and their desire to return palpable.