International Women Day is celebrating women’s achievements and call for equality. It’s roots can be traced to 1908, when 15,000 women marched in NY, demanding voting rights, better pay and shorter working hours. As of 1913, the IWD has been celebrated every year on March 8th.
A few years ago, the Catholic Church sought to establish a retreat center for pilgrims on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. When they begun digging for the foundations, remains of a Second Temple period Synagogue were exposed. Bit by bit the ancient village of Magdala, where Mary Magdalene lived, was unearthed. Volunteers were recruited world wide, who devoted themselves to dig up the site. And so, a market square was exposed, alongside some streets and living quarters of the little, lively, village.
The Magdala Stone was found in the synagogue
and bears one of the earliest images of the seven-branched menorah.
Photo: Yael Yulowich, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority
Father Juan Solana, the founder of Magdala, decided to dedicate the site – among other things – to the healing of women, seeing it is connected with the story of Mary Magdalene.
One of the chapels is called “The Encounter Chapel”. Its rough stone floor dates back to the first century port, and it features a beautiful mural-sized painting of Yeshua’s encounter with the woman who had a blood issue. Visitors today can simply stand in the marketplace where Yeshua walked and have a personal encounter.
The gorgeous Encounter mural, painted by the Chilean professor of art Daniel Cariola
Magdala started holding a symposium every year, on International Women’s Day. Various speakers are usually invited from Jewish, Arab and Christian sectors. This year I have been asked to teach about forgiveness, and to my delight – have been given the whole day, so that the attendance will be able to not only hear stories and principles, but also apply. Crucial when it comes to such a powerful mental and spiritual tool.
Forgiveness has become one of the key topics I teach about, the first tool I seek to equip with anyone coming to me for help. Without it, I find there is hardly any use in counseling, team building or training. Once forgiveness becomes a part of the vocabulary of those I train or minister to, things seem to flow in an enjoyable fashion, simply because everyone involved knows that even when tension or misunderstandings occur, they will be able to deal with it. O, how I wished this would have become the main tool teams use, congregations, families, communities. Can you imagine how our world would look like if we would not hold eachother in debt?
Anyway, tomorrow, March 4, I will teach forgiveness at Magdala. However, unlike usual, this time I will be facing an audience that does not necessarily speak the spiritual language I am accustomed to. Some of the participants are Catholics, some, it seems to me, are secular Jews.
Quite a few Arab women will also attend the event. Some of them, or their relatives, may have suffered from the complicated geopolitical state of affairs in Israel. They may have relatives or friends who have been killed or wounded by IDF soldiers. And here is an Israeli Jew, who served in that army, telling them they need to forgive. It is not a simple task for me. And definitely, not an easy one for them.
Much prayer and intercession has been invested towards this event. I feel that I need to focus the stories and some of the points that I will teach, on the resentment women hold towards men. It has been confirmed through the intercessors.
I would love to know you join us in prayer. I am still going back and forth in my mind and heart, trying to figure out how God wants me to start, continue and end. My friend Dana will join me and will share parts of her powerful testimony, and how forgiveness had transformed her life. Both of us need to hear God clearly. Only He knows what the hearts that will be there need to hear, so that their blood issue will cease from flowing and for them to have their personal encounter.
And as always, I am looking for the Israel-widow point in it all. Israel has been abused, trampled over, ignored by. As a widow, she holds so much against God. So as you pray for me, and maybe for yourselves as well, don’t forget to take your position as a Ruth alongside a bitter widow, who does not want to have anything, as of now, with her Redeemer.
Thank you for standing with us.