On Mount Tabor, strengthened by their encounter with Christ

The Franciscans celebrated the Transfiguration on August 6 on the summit of Mount Tabor, and the festivities began the day before for some Christians. On August 5, some twenty families gathered in the sanctuary’s garden: a festive and family-oriented atmosphere, complete with a barbecue, music and singing; nothing was missing, and especially not the tents that were pitched for the night. These Christians came from all over Galilee and they have been continuing this tradition for many years. “This goes back to the Ottoman period, when the friars owned this place but were not allowed to go there but once a year for the Transfiguration. So, they would come the day before, with the country’s Christians, and they would spend the night here. They would attend mass in the morning,” said Br. Bernard Barbaric, the guardian of the monastery on Mount Tabor. And in fact, the mass in Arabic 5:30 brought these pious night owls together.

Parishioners of Jerusalem, pilgrims and Franciscans, from across the province arrived for the early morning mass at 10:30 a.m. presided over by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custos of the Holy Land. In his homily, Br. Amjad Sabbara, OFM, Nazareth’s parish priest, compared the experience of the disciples on Mount Tabor to the experience of Christians who attend mass. “Like the disciples, we have to hear the word of God and understand who he is. Then, we have to go back down the mountain and return to our daily lives, strengthened by this encounter.”

Before leaving, the faithful participated in the procession to the chapel of Descentibus. Located below the main church, it commemorates the place where Jesus asked Peter, John and James to keep their secrecy about the episode: “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead” (Matthew 17:9). As per tradition, the Custos blessed some branches that were then given out at the gathering. The day came to an end outside in the shade, where everyone shared a generous meal prepared by the Mondo X community who manage the Casa Nova.

Hélène Morlet

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