An Omer of love for the neighbor
Just after Easter, I received a gift of a “barley omer” from Yisca Harani, a Jewish woman who is much more than an ordinary tour guide. She specializes in Christianity and gives seminars and lectures as well as being a university level researcher.
For anyone interested in Israel and Christianity I recommend following her website (https://www.yiscaharani.com/en) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/YiscaHaraniInfo). Her Jewish perspective in explaining Christianity is always incredibly enriching.
Yisca, with a group of participants in one of her very popular seminars, came to visit me and offering me a barley omer, she made a surprising and courageous gesture towards me, let’s see why.
The omer (“sheaf”) is an ancient biblical volumetric measurement of grains. On the day following the Sabbath during Passover – on the second day of Passover (Feast of Unleavened Bread) an omer of barley was offered at the Temple in Jerusalem.
“Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD”. (Leviticus 23)
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Storm at the Sea of Galilee
On Ash Wednesday I went to Capernaum. In the video you see the dock of this town of fishermen, home of the Apostles John, James and Matthew (Peter and Andrew, as probably Philip, had also moved there from their earlier home of Bethsaida). Jesus, at the beginning of his public ministry, moved from Nazareth into Peter’s home in Capernaum, where so many episodes reported in the Gospels took place.
Today you can visit the ruins of this ancient Jewish city, the Synagogue where our Lord preached and a Church built on the house of Peter, where Jesus was living. The present-day pier on which I walk is built on top of the authentic pier of Jesus’ time, which forms its foundation.
Such a storm was certainly enough to get the boats of the time into trouble, as evidenced by the Gospels which tell of the famous storms on the lake, miraculously calmed by Jesus.
I hope the shower was good for my cleansing and even if it wasn’t I had a lot of fun!!!
I attach also my social accounts where I post usually the same stuff I post on the blog
Taylor Swift prays to Jesus too
“One world: Togheter at Home” is the name of the event organized by many artists led by Lady Gaga to comfort people in this time of emergency and raise funds. The timetables were designed for America, in Israel in fact the highlight was on air at 2 am… So, given the impossible time, this morning, after having done my usual prayers, as a good music lover I went to see if they had made it available on You Tube for those who missed it.
Of course I didn’t put up with the endless 8 hours of the broadcast, but I went to see what interested me.
In the end, penultimate, sang Taylor Swift who had chosen her beautiful song “Soon you’ll get better” dedicated to her parents, about the battles they have had with cancer, and specifically on her mother’s latest diagnosis.
The artists presented themselves in different ways: playful or worried, joking or serious and even a little tried. And we are all able to see when someone’s displeasure is true or it’s a pose….
Taylor was admirable, she was really sad and in a somewhat resigned tone and with a simple and honest attire she sang this song, sketching a shy smile at the end and showing a sincere suffering, a sign of her hypersensitive and compassionate soul. This was an appropriate way of showing closeness to those who in this emergency have experienced real tragedies such as the loss of loved ones, or went bankrupt and have nothing to eat.
To my surprise, while listening to the song, Taylor mentioned Jesus expressly, making an explicit profession of faith, here are some of her lyrics:
Holy orange bottles (the medicine bottles I guess), each night I pray to you
Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus too
And I say to you
Ooh-ah, soon you’ll get better
It is impressive to see how this time of struggle has led many to Jesus.
“For if anyone is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” Mk 8:38. “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge him before God’s Angels” Lk 12:8
For this beautiful profession of faith Taylor will have her reward. Contrary to her collection of Grammy Awards …. which are also beautiful and deserve all our respect, the rewards that Jesus gives us are eternal and will never go out of fashion nor will there be anyone who bypasses them in the hit parade. It took just one word, just more than a syllable, to mention the name of Jesus, to transform a beautiful song into something eternal.
And if from the title of Taylor’s latest album “Lover”, from the flagship song which describes the complex and painful story with a “lover”, -with the clear desire to transform this relationship into something stable though- … one would not have expected a particular devotion, this story confirms instead that no one has the right to judge the faith of another. In the depths of every man, in fact, even when everything would suggest otherwise, there is a yearning for the Absolute that no one can suppress.
This singer, with a simple word, has offered a beautiful testimony and we too can do the same thing in our lives, humble and hidden, sometimes gray, but equally important in the eyes of God. The testimonies of believers, in fact form an invisible chain, which produces a divine symphony and attracts others. And if seeing a famous person who turns to Jesus strikes us, we should reflect on the fact that each of us has met less conspicuous people in life who have spent their lives for God, perhaps your grandparents or your parents, or any other person who has offered us a testimony of faith, and this should already be enough to convince us that trusting in Jesus is the best thing we can do.
The Lord waits for us to turn to Him, waits patiently, and too many people live an existence without him, depriving themselves of the strength of his consolation, until the time comes to return.
And there is even more beautiful news here: if someone wants to talk to us, we are happier if he is a famous or important person. God does not do this, because
“man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” 1Sam 16:7
As soon as we turn to him, Jesus loves us all with exactly the same immense love. Indeed, he prefers the smallest, the humble and those who have suffered most, those who have been rejected and therefore have a special place in his heart. He prefers them, however, in a mysterious way: if we think that after all we cannot be counted among these little ones we do not have the right to feel excluded, in fact his love is immense. My immense how much is: 5 or 10?! And what is your immense: 20 or 30? Where there is something immense, nothing can be measured and no one lacks anything, indeed there is a total overabundance for each.
God is the only one capable of encompassing and embracing everything and everyone, capable of encompassing and embracing Taylor Swift, you, me and every other person who has loved and even rejected him.