November 19, 2015 was a day in time and a moment in history. My wife and I landed at Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel, on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in search of spiritual upliftment and dynamic laws of prosperity. Israel is a beautiful, blessed, and highly industrialized country. Our visit was memorable. Let me briefly summarize the itinerary of our tour. Two millennia have passed since the Annunciation to Mary of Nazareth, the event that marks the start of the Christian era. For two thousand years, a constant flow of pilgrims has been coming to the Holy Land to visit the sacred places where the Gospel was preached. They come to the city of Jerusalem which, St. Paul writes, “will be the centre of the New Order.” A pilgrimage is the best way to discover the Holy Land and understand the Gospels, reading passages at the sacred sites connected with them.
Our first port of call was Nazareth. The city of Nazareth lies in a valley in the southern Galilee. Here the Angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would bear a child, and here Jesus spent his childhood with his parents Joseph and Mary: “And He came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, he shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23). The Basilica of the Annunciation, built on the spot where Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, was completed in 1969 and dominates the city. It is the fifth Church built on the spot where the Angel Gabriel stood when he prophesied to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive a child, and the remains of the earlier Churches can still be seen.
From Nazareth, we travelled to Cana. It was in Cana that Jesus performed His first miracle, by changing water into wine at a wedding where He, His mother and His disciples were guests (John 2). There are two Churches in Cana, a Greek Orthodox Church and the Franciscan Church of the Miracle, which was built in 1879 over the ruins of a sixth century sanctuary. This was the site of the village synagogue where the wedding is believed to have taken place and young couples still come today to celebrate their marriages here. The Chapel of St. Bartholomew is dedicated to Nathaniel, a native of Cana who was initially skeptical of Jesus, saying: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
We left Cana for Capernaum. At the time of Jesus, Capernaum was a wealthy Jewish town. Here Jesus met His first disciples Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew, all fishermen who worked on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus performed many miracles in Capernaum and surrounding area. Here He healed Peter’s mother-in-law of fever, brought a child back to life, cured a leper, healed the centurion’s servant and “cast out spirits with his word and healed all who were sick” (Matthew 8:16). Among his many teachings here were the parables of the sower, of the treasure hidden in the field and of the fishing net. However, the people of Capernaum did not believe in Jesus and He consequently cursed them: “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell” (Matthew 11:23). From Capernaum we drove down to the nearby Tabgha. The name Tabgha is a distortion of the Greek word Heptapegon, which means “Seven Springs.” In the past, seven springs met at this point and flowed into the Sea of Galilee, however, today only five remains. This is the traditional site of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes which Jesus performed in order to feed the multitudes who had come to hear Him preach: “But Jesus said unto them. They need not depart: give ye them to eat. And they say unto Him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, bring them hither to me. And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves and two fishes, and gave the loaves to His disciples to give to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children” (Matthew 14:16-21). The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes was built on the table rock where this miracle took place.
After the miracle at Tabgha, Jesus “entered into a ship with His disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha” (Mark 8:10). Traditionally, this is where Jesus sighed for mankind. The place of meditation, on the west side of the Sea of Galilee near Magdala, is marked with a great Cross facing the peaceful waters. Nearby, along the shore, is the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy or Mensa Christi — the Table of Christ. This Chapel was built on the place where Jesus appeared for the third time after His death. Here they ate together and here Jesus appointed Simon Peter to the office of the Primacy with the words: “Feed my lambs … feed my sheep” (John 21:15-19).
Still within the precinct of Galilee, we visited the Church of the Beatitudes. Situated atop the Mount of Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the octagonal shaped Chapel of the Church of the Beatitudes marks the spot where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount: “And seeing the multitude He went up into a mountain … and He opened His mouth, and taught them” (Matthew 5:1-2). Remains of a small Byzantine Church were discovered here in 1935, but the Franciscans chose to rebuild the modern Church on the hilltop, not over ancient Chapel. Constructed by Antonio Barluzzi of local basalt, with a colonnaded cloister of white stone surrounding it, the octagonal Church recalls the eight blessings, one of which is inscribed on each wall. The mosaic on the floor is decorated with symbols of the virtues of man referred to in the Sermon:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the poor in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3-10).
At Caesarea Philippi, we saw the remains of great Roman fortress. At the time of Jesus, Caesarea Philippi was a fruitful glen through which a river flowed, with opulent residences, colonnaded streets and large temples. The city was given to Herod by the Roman Emperor Augustus and as a token of his gratitude; he built a palace to Caesar. After Herod’s death, his son Philip embellished the city and made it his capital, renaming it Caesarea Philippi. “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples saying: Who do people say the son of Man is?” “Some say John the Baptist”, they answered. “Others say Elijah, while others say Jeremiah or some other prophet.” “What about you?” He asked them. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” “Good for you, Simon son of John!” answered Jesus. “For this truth did not come to you from any human being, but it was given to you directly by my Father in heaven. And so this I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my Church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven” (Matthew 16: 13-19).
We left Galilee for Bethlehem. On our way, we made a brief stopover at Jericho. Known as “City of Palms”, Jericho is one of the oldest cities in the world. The children of Israel crossed the River Jordan nearby and in 1250 B.C. the city fell to the blast of Joshua’s trumpets. Elijah was taken to Heaven from Jericho, and here Elisha purified the water with salt. The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Elisha commemorates this miracle. On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Jericho. Amongst the crowd of people waiting to catch a glimpse of Him was a small man named Zaccheus. In order to get a better view, he climbed into a sycamore tree. The story of how Zaccheaus received salvation is told in Luke 19:5-9. On the side of a mountain west of Jericho is the Greek Orthodox Monastery called the Monastery of Quarantel (from the Latin for “Forty Days”) or the Monastery of the Temptation. According to tradition, it was here that Jesus isolated Himself and fasted for forty days, resisting the Devil’s offer of “all the kingdom in the world” (Luke 4:5). At the top of the mountain are the remains of a Chapel which marks the spot where Satan tempted Jesus. “And immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with beasts; and the Angels ministered unto Him” (Mark 1:12-13).
From Jericho we travelled down to Bethlehem. Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means “House of Bread” was originally called Ephrath, and has many biblical associations reflecting a tranquil, pastoral existence. Here Jacob buried his beloved wife Rachael (Gen.35:16) and here was enacted the story of Ruth. Bethlehem is revered as the birthplace of David (1 Sam.17:12) and of Jesus, “born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King” (Matthew 2:1). East of Bethlehem, in the village of Beit Sahur, is the Shepherd’s Field where the Angel appeared to the shepherds and announced the birth of Jesus: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). There is a Greek Orthodox Church built over a cave and a Catholic Church was built for the Franciscans by Barluzzi 1950.
Joseph and Mary came from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census ordered by the Roman authorities because Joseph was of the lineage of David, and Bethlehem was the “City of David.” The Gospel of Luke (2:7) describes how Mary “brought forth her firstborn son … and laid him in a manger; because there was not room in the in.” from the very beginnings of Christianity, the grotto where Jesus was born was sacred. The first Church was built over the grotto in the first half of the fourth century on the initiative of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine and his mother, the Empress Helena. The octagonal altar they erected is still there. This Church was partially destroyed in the Samaritan revolt of the sixth century. The present Church was built by Justinian in 530. From the exterior, it appears like a fortress. The original entrance was filled in and made low and narrow in order to protect it from the Moslem invaders and to prevent them from entering on horseback. Most of the Churches in the Holy Land were destroyed during the Persian invasion of the seventh century, but apparently the Church of the Nativity was saved from desecration because of the mosaic then on the façade of the Church, which depicted the Three Wise Men who came to pay homage to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:2) in Persian clothing.
Finally, we arrived at the jewel, the pearl of the Middle East cities — Jerusalem! References and quotations about Jerusalem in the Bible are innumerable. It is known as the Sacred City, Jerusalem the Golden, the City of Peace, the City of David, Zion… . There is not another city that has been the cause of so many armed conflicts as Jerusalem. Its holy sites, revered by the three great monotheistic religions, are a constant draw to pilgrims from all over the world. For Christianity, no mountain holds more far-reaching importance and sentiment than Olivet, or the Mount of Olives, nowhere did Jesus spend more time during His mission and ministry in Jerusalem. When Jesus was in the area, He would stay with His friends at Bethany and on His way to and from the city He would pass through the Mount of Olives. Here, overlooking the Temple, He taught His disciples, prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and wept of its fate (Luke 19:37-41). We also visited Mount Zion. In the time of the Old Testament, Mount Zion was the name given to the city of David. “David took the strong hold of Zion; the same is the city of David” (II Samuel 5:7). On the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives there stands to this day a stately grove of eight ancient olive trees. These trees and their fruits have given this site their name, Gethsemane: gat-shamna means olive-press in Aramaic. It was here in the Gethsemane, that Jesus came to pray with His disciples when He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and was subsequently arrested by the soldiers sent by the Sanhedrin.
We visited the Pool of Siloam. It was at this pool that Jesus sent the blind man to wash after He had covered his eyes with a mixture of clay and spittle: “And He said unto him: Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam. He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing” (John 9:7); the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus performed the miracle of healing a crippled man. We trekked along the famous Via Dolorosa with its 15 Stations of the Cross. We later came down to the Western Wall (the Wailing Wall), where we fervently prayed and wailed to the Almighty God for wisdom, good health and long life.
Then, we visited Megiddo or Armageddon. Due to its strategic position on the Via Maris, Megiddo was a major battleground in the past. According to tradition, this is the site of the Armageddon where the final battle between the forces of good and evil will take place. From there, we drove down to Masada which is situated above the Dead Sea, which was one of the fortresses luxuriously built and fortified by Herod the Great. Approach was difficult. The only way seems to have been by the narrow Snake Path, tortuously winding up the eastern slope of the mountain. At Masada, the few surviving Jewish patriots who took part in the Jewish Revolt against the Romans gathered in 70 A.D. to make the last stand. The Zealots, led by Eleazar ben Yair, were besieged for three years by the Romans. Realising that it was impossible to hold out any longer, the 967 defenders committed suicide preferring to die as free men rather than be taken into captivity by the Romans. The fall of Masada to the Roman forces almost 2000 years ago marked the end of the Jewish revolt, and the end of any Jewish independence in the Land of Israel until 1948. Since the re-establishment of the state, “Masada Shall Not Fall Again As Long As I Live” has become the rallying cry, especially among newly inducted soldiers. We visited so many other religious and archeological sites that I cannot mention here for want of time and space.
Our pilgrimage to the Holy Land was spiritually uplifting, fulfilling and reassuring. It proved beyond doubt everything we were thought in Roman Catholic Church about our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the true Son of the Living God who existed in time and space. Our journey has enabled me re-affirm my belief in Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church is the undisputable Universal Church.
The pilgrimage was an eye-opener as far as financial and personal development is concerned. I was able to find time to couch Jewish and African youth in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on the “Dynamic Laws of Prosperity.” The Seminar was interactive in nature and the Auditorium was jam-packed. It was two- way traffic so to say. I gave the youth in the Holy Land the latest cutting edge ideas and techniques of acquiring money and personal development. In return, the Israeli youth gave me an insight into the Jewish age-long intelligence and money making know-how. There were so many Ethiopian Fallashes (Israeli Jews of Ethiopian descent) in attendance. One of them told me about Jewish ingenuity in what he referred to as the “Golden Age” of mankind.
Some of the dynamic laws of prosperity we discussed are (1) The Law of Cause and Effect. This law says that everything happens for a reason; there is a cause for every effect. Thus, if you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with the undesirable life you don’t want. The Law of Cause and Effect applies to money as much as to any other subject. It says that financial success is an effect. As such, it proceeds from certain, specific causes. When you identify these causes and apply them to your own life and activities, you will get the same effects that millions of other successful people have gotten. The most important cliché of this universal law is that: “Thoughts are causes and conditions are effects.” Today is the perfect day to start living your dream.
(2) The Law of Exchange. This law says that money is the medium through which people exchange their labour in the production of goods and services for the goods and services of other people. The amount of money you earn is in direct proportion to your value in society, and the value others place on your contribution. If you want more money you have to increase the services you render or acquire more expertise and training in a particular field of human endeavour. Money is an effect, not a cause. Your most valuable asset, in terms of cash flow, is your physical and mental capital, your earning ability. Time and money can either be spent or invested. Money is a measure of the value that people place on goods and services.
(3) The Law of Saving. This law says that financial freedom comes to the person who saves ten percent or more of his or her income throughout his/her lifetime. Pay yourself first, according to The Richest Man in Babylon by George Classon. Begin today to save ten percent of your income, off the top, and never touch it. This is your fund for long-term financial accumulation and you never use it for any other reason except to invest in your financial future.
(4) Parkinson’s Law. This law says that: “Expenses rise to meet income.” Thus, you either augment your means or diminish your needs, according to Earl Nightingale. Parkinson,s Law is one the best and most important laws of money and wealth accumulation. It was developed by English writer C, Northcote Parkinson many years ago and it explains why most people retire poor. This law says that, no matter how much money people earn, they tend to spend the entire amount and a little bit more besides. Their expenses rise pari passu with their income. No matter how much they make, there never seems to be enough. Financial independence comes from violating Parkinson’s Law. If you allow your expenses to increase at a slower rate than your income, and you save or invest the difference, you will become financially independent in your working lifetime.
(5) Law of Accumulation. It says that every great financial achievement is an accumulation of hundreds of small efforts and sacrifices that no one ever sees or appreciates. Many a little make a mickle or many a mickle makes a muckle, the Scottish proverb goes. As your savings accumulate, you develop a momentum that moves you more rapidly toward your financial goals. By the yard it is hard, but inch-by-inch anything is a cinch.