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This is the city of Jericho. It is located on the West Bank, in the desert of Judah, about 240 meters below sea level.
Described in the Old Testament as the “City of Palms”, the richness of fields has enabled Jericho to be inhabited by humans for thousands of years.
More than ten thousand years old, it is considered as the most ancient city still in existence. Archaeologists have found remains of twenty successive settlements in Jericho, the first dating back to eleven thousand years ago.
The Book of Joshua recounts the famous battle of Jericho, when the city was surrounded by the children of Israel seven times, until its walls collapsed.
In the New Testament, Luke speaks of Zacchaeus, who being small in stature climbs a sycamore tree to see Jesus.
From the city you can see the Mount of Temptation, which rises above Jericho at a height of 350 meters. It is now guarded by the Greek-Orthodox monks.
It received this name because of what occurred there. Jesus was tempted by the devil immediately after his baptism. From the top of this hill, Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms and offered him power over them.
An ancient monastery was built by the Byzantines in the sixth century. Later in 1099, the Crusaders built two churches there. The site was purchased in 1874 by the Orthodox Church, who then built the monastery we see today. Currently the monastery is run by the Palestinian National Authority, under the supervision of the Orthodox monks.
In a chapel inside a cave we can see the rock upon which Jesus sat during the temptation.
The monastery is a work of admirable engineering, built on pure rock. From one of its balconies, you can admire the beautiful scenery of the desert and the valley of Jericho, which is an oasis of green.
Next to the monestary you can also see the famous caves in the desert, which in the past, were actually lived in.
The valleys are deep, and so to reach the monastery you must take one of two ways: go by cable car or walk up the slopes of the mountain.
Each year, the Liturgy of the Word of the First Sunday of Lent offers a meditation on the Gospel passage which tells the story of Jesus’ temptations in the desert. The Gospel of the temptations and the journey of Lent symbolize the journey of life, made up of trials and triumphs, joys and sufferings, sin and forgiveness.
– The temptation of possession. Money, material goods
“Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all these, if you fall at my feet and do me homage.’
Then Jesus replied, ‘Away with you, Satan!
For scripture says: The Lord your God is the one to whom you must do homage, him alone you must serve.'”. Mt. 4, 8-10
-The temptation of pride:
“‘If you are Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves.’ But he replied, ‘Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Mt 4, 3-4
– The temptation of power:
“””The devil then took him to the holy city and set him on the parapet of the Temple.
‘If you are Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down; “
for scripture says: He has given his angels orders about you, and they will carry you in their arms in case you trip over a stone.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Scripture also says: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Mt. 4, 5-7
Pope Francis presents three specific characteristics of temptation during a catechism: “It grows up, it becomes contagious and it justifies itself.”
“With all my heart I seek you, do not let me stray from your commandments.
“In my heart I treasure your promises, to avoid sinning against you.
Blessed are you, Yahweh, teach me your will!
With my lips I have repeated all the judgements you have given.
In the way of your instructions lies my joy, a joy beyond all wealth.
I will ponder your precepts and fix my gaze on your paths.
(Psalms 119, 10-15)