General Admission

Getting baptized again at the Jordan River

By Al S. Medoza

 OUT of love of my recent five-country swing, I collected objects that are meaningless if we go by strict standards.

Leaves.  Pebbles.  Napkins.

Commonly called now as the Holy Land Pilgrimage, my wife and I were with 50 Filipinos or so in the religious journey just last month.

Our jumping board was Dubai, the so-called New York of the United Arab Emirates.

We flew from there to Amman, Jordan, the flight taking almost four hours.

It is in Jordan where the fabled Jordan River is.

It is in the Jordan River where St. John the Baptist baptized his cousin, Jesus Christ.

Before Jesus’ entry, St. John was the prophet generally considered as the Messiah (Chosen One by God to save humanity from sin.)

But no.  St. John kept saying a “greater one will come after me.”

And that was Jesus Christ.

Thus, when the cousins finally met face to face in the Jordan River, St. John said, in reverence to Jesus:  “I’m not even worthy to untie your sandals.”

In the Jordan River, Sol & I were baptized symbolically by Fr. Eds Huvalla of Pitogo, Quezon.

The Wikipedia defines baptism in the Christian world as “an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus.”

So wet was my hair after the baptism at the Jordan River that I had needed virtually a mountain of napkins to dry it up.

One such napkin, still wet, is in a ziplock and stored in my aparador.

In Palestine, I got my first collection of leaves from the symbolic sycamore tree where Zacchaeus climbed to get a glimpse of a crowd-surrounded Jesus Christ passing by Jericho, considered the oldest city in the world.

Zacchaeus, whose job as chief tax collector made him eternally unpopular to the people, got a bonus when Jesus acceded to his request to visit and dine in his house.

Before Jesus could finally enter Zacchaeus’ house, Zacchaeus said to Jesus: “Lord, I’m not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

As was his wont whenever he encountered repentant sinners in His ministry, Jesus told Zacchaeus: “Your faith has saved you.”

That statement by Zacchaeus is uttered by the officiating priest in every celebration of the Holy Catholic Mass.

The sycamore leaf is with many other leaves I had plucked out in the 38 places during the 15-day pilgrimage, including almost 27 churches we visited/celebrated Mass.

Like the napkin from the Jordan River, the leaves—from Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Egypt—are in a see-through plastic sitting beside another see-through plastic with pebbles picked from said four countries.

They are safe in my aparador made of narra.

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