NAZARETH – On Sunday, March 12, 2017, the faithful of the area assembled and following behind Bishop Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Galilee went up in procession to the Mount of Precipice. This ancient pilgrimage, which always takes place on the second or third Sunday of Lent, aims to repair the unbelief of the Nazarenes of Jesus’ time.
The Mount of Precipice is the emblematic place of the unbelief of the people of Nazareth. To remember this lack of faith, on the 3rd Sunday of Lent, the Gospel of the unbelief of the Nazarenes is read, and the day has become a holiday and festival, with the Franciscans celebrating there a Mass in front of one of the many caves that are on the mountain.
After the disappearance of this tradition in the 1960s-70s, the Latin Patriarchate and the Franciscans revived the pilgrimage in early 2000. In May 2009, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the presence of 65,000 faithful on the north slope of Mount which has a natural amphitheater.
This year, two Scout groups and many families answered the call of the Father Amjad Sabbara and Family’s Club who organized the event. The faithful gathered at the beginning of the wood of the Mount or “Wood of Reconciliation” before leaving in procession to the sound of the band. Bishop Riah Abul-Assah, a retired Anglican bishop and several priests of Catholic parishes of Nazareth, accompanied Bishop Marcuzzo.
After the proclamation of the Gospel of the Transfiguration read this Sunday, Bishop Marcuzzo addressed the crowd reminding all that “pure and strong” faith is built simply on the Word of God, the testimony of Jesus and teaching of the Church, and not on miracles and the extraordinary: “God speaks to us and is often present to us through signs and the simple facts of life.” Mount Precipice allows a beautiful view of Mount Tabor where the Transfiguration occurred, the Gospel passage of the day, but also Mount Hermon. The bishop then encouraged the faithful to pray for the people of Syria who are suffering and to offer for them the sacrifices and fasting of Lent.
After the homily, the congregation prayed the prayer intentions prepared by the Palestinian Christian Youth.
Afterwards, some families remained for a picnic on the Mount, where there are many caves. One of them is famous by the discovery that was made there in 1933: The “Man of Qafzeh” which dates to the Mid-Neolithic period (100, 000 years), and which today is preserved in Paris. Other caves have served as monasteries dedicated to the Virgin Mary or lauras?* for hermits, the Byzantine centuries.
*Laura: in the Christian East, was a type of monastery consisting of a cluster of cells or caves inhabited by isolated monks, who met once a week for the service and meals.
From our correspondent in Nazareth