The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. LK 3:2-3
The Jordan River flows in to and out of the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea and separates Israel and Jordan. It is 251 km long, a rather narrow river that descends steeply at first and then gently as it nears the Dead Sea. The West Bank refers to the west bank (of the southern section) of the Jordan River within Israel. The Golan Heights, the territory captured by Israel from Syria, abuts the northern part of the Jordan to the east.
We went to the Jordan at Qasr el Yahud in Israel, about 9 km above the Dead Sea and the site where Jesus was baptized by John. The actual baptism site is commemorated on the Jordan side which we could see from where we were on the Israeli side.
Most of us waded into the water and were ceremoniously baptized by Bishop Sylvain or Fr. Susui. It was another memorable experience that we will never forget. There were many other pilgrim groups dressed in white doing the same thing. Many were singing.
All was calm and peaceful under the watchful eyes of a couple of armed soldiers on each side of the river. Sad that this is necessary but it is symptomatic of today’s divided world.
So this is the site where Jesus short ministry was inaugurated. We could hardly believe that we were in the exact spot. Thanks be to God.