by Margaux Salcedo
Hello from the Holy Land!
I am currently in Jerusalem, my first time to visit this city of incomparable history.
Writing my first column from the very town where Christ was crucified, I initially felt compelled to write something profound - a reflection on the passion of Christ, a comparison of Jewish and Christian traditions, an essay on the role of Mary or any other related thesis.
But I just had an experience that made me realize that amidst all the complex if not complicated rituals that religions employ, the message of Christ that has resonated from the time that He preached around Galilee is not highfalutin at all.
I had the rare opportunity to hear mass inside Jesus' empty tomb at the 6 am mass on this day, the first day of our pilgrimage to Jerusalem, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The tomb can fit but five people.
Our generous guide, Sister Rebecca of the Missionary Sisters of the Catechism arranged for us to assist in the mass. Inside the tomb with my mother and sister, I read the First Reading and Responsorial Psalm, as the mass was in English. The rest of the tourists hear mass facing but outside the tomb.
As I kissed the bed of stone where Jesus was laid to rest, I said a little prayer: "Jesus, I want to see you." (I know, I'm a little cuckoo.)
That evening, after making the obligatory visit to the Western Wall, putting on my food writer's hat, I had dinner at the Jewish Quarter to have a taste of authentic Israeli cuisine. Instead, I had a taste of an authentic rip off. The waiter of the Friends restaurant welcomed my group with a charming smile, suggested to us what we should eat and took our orders but when I asked for the prices, he said he would give us a menu but that never came. When the bill arrived, we were shocked by an overcharge of over 100 Shekel (around P1500), as the waiter charged us for items that he placed on our table that we did not order but he insisted we pay for.
Worse, we were not even that hungry so we had so much food left over. We wrapped the food for takeaway just so that it would not go to waste but had no idea what to do with it.
As we walked back to our guest house, we came across a petite old lady with a shawl wrapped around her head. I first noticed her as we made our way to the Jaffa gate; she looked at me and smiled but she did not say anything and walked past us. Then as we made our way to another street, we saw her again, her back to us this time, as she looked at the window of a restaurant.
I went up to her to offer our food. I was hesitant because I was uncertain how she would take it; I was afraid of offending her with my gesture as some take offen