In anticipation of the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6, the Indian Chaplaincy organized a pilgrimage to Mount Tabor for about 200 Indian migrant workers in Israel. Father Jayaseelan OFM reports.
About 200 Indian migrant workers dared trek the hair-pin- curved track of five kilometers leading up to the Basilica of the Transfiguration on the Mount Tabor, the holy mountain in the region of Lower Galilee in Northern Israel. This pilgrimage took place two days before the Feast of the Transfiguration, commemorated here, on Saturday, August 4, 2012. In spite of the burning summer- Galilean- heat, these devoted Indians sang hymns, prayed rosaries and joyfully marched towards the peak of the mountain while recalling the journey of Our Lord Jesus and his three Apostles on this very mountain some 2000 years ago.
The Indian Chaplaincy of the Holy Land facilitated this spirit-renewing pilgrimage for its faithful in the spirit of the solemnity of the Transfiguration, the principal feast of this region, which falls on August 6 and which commemorates the Gospel account of Our Lord Jesus taking three of his privileged disciples namely Peter, James and John up this very high mountain. There he was transfigured in front of them. It is told that his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. Alongside him appeared the Biblical heroes, the prophets Moses and Elijah and conversed with him.
As they reached the entrance, the arch of the Custody of the Holy Land, through which one enters the property of the Basilica, they were all exhausted due to the scorching heat and the long climb. However, they were all excited and enthusiastic to enter the holy site, sanctified by the presence of our Lord and his holy Apostles and the numerous holy men and women pilgrims throughout history.
At the entrance of the Basilica, Father Antonio Dudek OFM, the Guardian of the Basilica, gave them a solemn welcome with the ringing of the bells of the Basilica and with warm words of appreciation for the efforts of this vibrant Indian community, which had dared to take up such a meaningful pilgrimage. After invoking the blessing of the Triune God, he sprinkled them with holy water.
Everyone then participated in the Eucharist, celebrated by the Indian Chaplain, Fr. Jay OFM, in Konkani and English with much devotion and piety. They also prayed for peace in the Middle East, especially in Syria, and for their families in India. Some mentioned that they had visited this basilica a number of times but had never participated in the Eucharist celebrated here. After the Mass, they moved to the third part of the pilgrimage: to participate in the fellowship meal prepared on this holy mountain for all the participants by the Indian Chaplaincy of Holy Land. Some of the volunteers of the Basilica remarked that they had seen many Indian pilgrims visit this holy mountain but this was the first time they had seen such a big group of Indians who made it on foot. It is to be noted in the ancient times, one had to walk up no less than 4,340 stairs to arrive at the Basilica.
For the migrant Indians, this was a faith-renewing and transforming experience. One is sure that this Tabor Yatra would remain as a life- time experience in their hearts.
Pictures by Roshan Martis from Hadera, Israel