Contemporary Stations of the Cross

Contemporary Stations of the Cross

By Jec Dan Borlado (Ecumenical Accompanier, Jerusalem)
Write up No. 8

Note: I would like to give credit to Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center ( in Jerusalem for producing the material “Contemporary Stations of the Cross – A liturgical journey along the Palestinian Via Dolorosa” from which the majority text of this write up was derived.

Not too long ago, the Western and Eastern Christian world celebrated the Holy Week. Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter wherein believers remember and reflect on the passion and death of Jesus Christ. It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. It does not include Easter or Resurrection Sunday.

The image of the suffering Christ is unique, and key to the Christian faith. The God who experienced and overcame the physical and psychological pain of oppression, torture and execution is a source of great hope and strength to those who continue to suffer today. Sabeel and this write-up seeks to bring alive the message of Christ in the historic context and daily suffering experienced by Palestinian and Israeli communities. The image of the cross with its affliction and pain, then Jesus’ response of gentleness, non-violence, and ultimately resurrection – is one of comfort and inspiration. As Christ identified with suffering people and called on his followers to reach out to them in their need, we too are invited to join this “mission of preferential option for the poor and oppressed” as we search for God in the midst of our daily struggles and joys.

In Jerusalem, the Via Dolorosa or ‘Way of the Cross’ with its 14 stations, is followed daily by individuals and groups of pilgrims. As an Ecumenical Accompanier participating in the World Council of Churches’ program called Ecumenical Accompaniment for Peace in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), I walked the Via Dolorosa daily for almost a month – not as a pilgrim – but as a volunteer going to and from an after school program for Palestinian children at the Al-Saraya Center. Every time I was at the center, the children and I would practice a song about peace (in the English language) in preparation for the celebration of Palestinian Child Day.


(Jerusalem EA – Elsa Døhlie from Norway, walking through the Via Dolorosa)

There is a passage from the Bible, in the Book of Luke 9:23 where Jesus Christ foretells his death and resurrection. In this passage, Jesus said to those who were listening, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’


(A section of the Good Friday Via Dolorosa Procession in the Old City of Jerusalem, April 6, 2012.)

What are some contemporary symbols of “carrying the cross” today?

When one looks deeply into the lives of Palestinians and Israelis, it is possible to see the crosses many people are carrying – the cross of the loss of their right to live in the city of their birth;

the cross of becoming homeless because of the demolition of their homes;

the cross which people carry when their land is confiscated and their property taken;

the crosses of humiliation and degradation which many people have to carry daily especially through checkpoints;

the cross of blame and shame for terrible acts that were not committed by this generation.

There is also the slow, creeping pressure of the “Separation Barrier” that leads to the suffocation of villages and ghettos (i.e. Refugee Camps). More Palestinians than Israelis continuously live through the events of Good Friday. Their way of the cross has been long and harsh. Their journey of suffering seems endless and full of despair.


(“If only you could see.”A blind man (with a friend) trying to cross the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday 2012.)

Below is a parallel list of the Traditional and Contemporary Stations of the Cross. May it speak to you about how we continually “crucify” Christ and people (i.e. ourselves) in our self-centeredness and greed for power and control especially in Palestine and Israel.

TRADITIONAL STATIONS                                                CONTEMPORARY STATIONS
1st                                                                                                         1st
Jesus is condemned to die                                                          The Nakba of 1948
2nd                                                                                                      2nd
Jesus carries his cross                                                                 Refugees
3rd                                                                                                       3rd
Jesus falls for the first time                                                       1967 Occupation
4th                                                                                                       4th
Jesus meets his mother                                                              Settlements
5th                                                                                                       5th
Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross                     Stress and Humiliation
6th                                                                                                       6th
Veronica wipes Jesus’ face                                                        Solidarity
7th                                                                                                       7th
Jesus falls the second time                                                        Home Demolitions
8th                                                                                                       8th
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem                                  Women against the Occupation
9th                                                                                                       9th
Jesus falls the third time                                                           Checkpoints
10th                                                                                                   10th
Jesus is stripped                                                                           Bureaucratic Oppression
11th                                                                                                   11th
Jesus is nailed to the cross                                                      Gaza
12th                                                                                                  12th
Jesus dies on the cross                                                             The Wall
13th                                                                                                  13th
Jesus is taken down from the cross                                    The Loss of Jerusalem
14th                                                                                                  14th
Jesus is laid in the tomb;                                                         What will the 14th station be?
after the 3rd day is raised from the dead

Glory to God and Peace on Earth!
God of Life, lead us to Justice and Peace!

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Hosanna: End the Occupation

Hosanna: End the Occupation

By Jec Dan Borlado (Ecumenical Accompanier, Jerusalem)

Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter.
The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event
mentioned in all four canonical Gospels.

Mark 11:1–11,
Matthew 21:1–11,
Luke 19:28–44, and
John 12:12–19.

For the Jews, Palm Sunday would be the Sunday just before the Friday Seder meal
of the Pesach festival.  The Pesach commemorates the story of the Exodus, in
which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.

For those who are neither religious Jews nor Christians, Palm Sunday 2012 would
just be April 1, 2012.

Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

– was the cry of the people who came out to meet Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on
that particular Sunday around 2000 years ago.  “Hosanna” is a cry for salvation;
while at the same time is a declaration of praise. It is a Hebrew word meaning
“please save” or “save now.” In liturgical context, it refers to a shout of praise and
worship and adoration, or referring to a cry expressing an appeal for divine help.

If Jesus came to Jerusalem today, I believe my cry would be:
“Hosanna! End the Occupation.”

Let me share to you a special song that was composed in Palestine and Israel. I
am an Ecumenical Accompanier in Jerusalem participating in the Ecumenical
Accompaniment for Peace in Palestine and Israel
(EAPPI) program of the World
Council of Churches.

Note: This song started at the Capitol Hotel, in East Jerusalem and was eventually
finished on the rooftop of the Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery, Haifa on March
29, 2012.

The song is dedicated to all Ecumenical Accompaniers especially Team 43.
It is also dedicated to all who have struggled and given so much of their lives to
ending the terrible situation between the people in Palestine and Israel.

An Israeli soldier (on his horse) quenching his thirst during the Palestinian Land Day: March 30.


“End the Occupation”

Verse 1:
We are all one and the same
We need water, food, and shelter from the rain
The color of our blood is the same
There’s no room for war in bloody Jesus’ name (or anyone else’s for that matter)

We are sisters
We are brothers
We are pilgrims
Heading towards the light

(To) End the occupation
End the occupation
End the occupation
End it now
(Repeat Chorus)

Verse 2:
No more walls that divide
Them trees of life – they keep us alive
You gotto stop the suicide
Your living heart and mind is most precious in this life

Verse 3:
Should we give up silently?
(No!) Raise your voice in excellent, vivid quality
Be grateful for good company
God’s created world and this ecumenical family

(A copy of the song will hopefully come soon!)

Glory to God and Peace on Earth!
God of Life, lead us to Justice and Peace!

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A prayer for the Jerusalem I have met

A prayer for the Jerusalem I have met

By Jec Dan Borlado (Ecumenical Accompanier, Jerusalem)


Dear God,

Blessed be your name and good heart.

You are first and last.

All knowing and mysterious.

Liberator and reconciler.

A God who transforms and resists situations of separation.

A God in communion with all of creation.

Hear this prayer of mine.


I pray for all the people going through the checkpoints to enterIsrael:

Qalandiya, Zaytoun, Shua’fat, and Wadi Nar checkpoints among them –

May their hearts and souls never lose hope,

That one day they will be able to move freely in their own country.


(A chain and lock at Zaytoun Checkpoint.)


I pray for the neighborhoods of Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, and Shua’fat – Anata.

They struggle everyday from threats of house eviction and demolition;

From settler harrassment and illegal detention of young boys;

What answer do you offer to these neighborhoods?  Is it “love thy neighbor as thyself”?


(Fawzyeh Al Kurd – widow and mother; threatened by house eviction and settler violence.  She lives in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.)


I pray for the refugees in the Shua’fat camp.

Their expressed impressions of being imprisoned cannot be ignored.

I thought no one was ever meant to live in lack because You provide for all, all for free.

I pray that streams of living water will flow through these places and restore all that need it.


(Sabeel – in Arabic it means “spring”.  They are meant to be the sources of free flowing, clean water inside the Old city of Jerusalem.  Currently, all 17 of them are not operational.)


I pray for all the children here, and everywhere.

The future is in their eyes, the world is in their song.

May elders be used to equip and nurture them towards rightness and justice.

May the lives we live now, inspire them in their personal and joint pursuit for peace.


(It says, “Peace begins with Me.”)


I pray for the Indigenous people of this land – the Bedouins among them.

They used to graze their flock in the best places, now the best places have been fenced.

Provide them with the energy they need to run simple appliances; mobile phones and laptops are very common nowadays;

As they try to keep up with this self-combusting mainstream society run on oil and money.


(Abu Hamis – a Bedouin.  Shows us and his daughters the broken (due to bad, cold weather) electric generator that provides 5 hours of electricity to 22 households daily.)


I pray for the Friday demonstrators at Al-Bustan tent, Sheikh Jarrah, and Women in Black.

Voices in the wilderness they may be, but voices of the concerned nontheless.

Give us ears to listen and eyes to see their cry,

Their reasons for religiously expressing their cause every week.


(Three generations of advocacy – Israeli mother, daughter, and grand daughter.  Photo taken at the Women in Black Friday demonstrations.)


I pray for “the wall” and the power behind its establishment.

Maybe one day, all the equipment used to build the separation barrier,

Will be used just the same to take it down.

Why was the Berlin wall taken down, yet this wall stays up?  Is there a difference between the two?


(Tower of Power or Tower of Insecurity?)


I pray also for the many expressions of Your church here in Jerusalem.

I know you understand them all, but wouldn’t it be better to be together?  I mean complimenting each other?

Christians, Muslims, Jews, and non-religious folks who lead towards abundant life.

They have Your “breath of life” in common.


(If you look closely, 5 places of worship are in this picture.  The Wailing (Western) Wall (Jewish), Augusta Victoria (Lutheran-Reformed), Russian Church of the Ascension (Russian Orthodox), Pater Noster Church (Roman Catholic), and Al-Aqsa Mosque (Islam).)


I pray for the peace making, accompanying – organizations here also.

The quantity of people doing the same things for peace in this land is surprising.

But what is more surprising is that, though we are many,

What we all work for remains – elusive.

(The door entrance to the EAPPI office and Jerusalem Inter-Church Center.)


I pray for the Jews, dear God.

As society is universal, they too have societal struggles.

Corruption, Homelessness, Depression, Mal-education;

Jewish communities value family just as much as anybody else.

(Stickered wall in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.)


I pray that Your truth continue to be upheld as sacred.

And that your grace we easily find in the most desperate times.

May your love envelop the city ofJerusalem-

For the city of Jerusalem is every city and village throughout the whole world.


This is my prayer,

Through your Son – Jesus Christ,

I pray,


Jerusalem skyline.


Glory to God and Peace on Earth!

God of Life, Lead us to Justice and Peace!


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Peace in: Rain, Snow, and Attitude

Peace in: Rain, Snow, and Attitude

By Jec Dan Borlado (Ecumenical Accompanier, Jerusalem)

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until

they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout,

giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12 For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace;

(Isaiah 55:8-12)

The 55th chapter of the Old Testament book of Isaiah is entitled, “An invitation to abundant life.”  The verses above are excerpts from the passage.

As a person who comes from the tropical parts of the world (Philippines), cold temperature (e.g. zero degrees Celsius) feels odd, different, and to a certain extent – special.  It never snows in the Philippines, not even in the highest mountains of the country.  However, to those who live in the Scandinavian region in northern Europe (includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden) snow is normal, common, and may even be neglected.

I am currently participating in a World Council of Churches (WCC) three-month long program called Ecumenical Accompaniment for Peace inPalestineand Israel (EAPPI).  My placement is in the city ofJerusalem.  As Ecumenical Accompaniers we provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace.

March 2, 2012 – Haaretz (Israeli newspaper) headlines read: Heavy snow fall in Jerusalem for the first time in four years.  Also EAPPI Jerusalem Team 43 Taxi driver Firas, who was born and grew up in Palestine shared that, “there has not been this much rainfall in the land for over 20 years.  It is good for the land and the people.”

It is a well known fact that when it snows in Jerusalem, everything stops.  Everyone positively decides to stay at home, suspend classes, and strongly discourage travel.  A Jerusalemite amusingly said to me that, “only the internationals (meaning tourists or foreigners) don’t stop when it snows.”

(Snowfall at the balcony of the EAPPI Jerusalem apartment)

Sometimes, unfavorable weather gives us feelings of frustration, ruins our plans, and at times – destroys our lives.  However Scandinavian friends remind that, “there is never bad weather, just bad clothes” thus, imparting an important lesson – life is an attitude.

The biblical passage found in Isaiah 55, teaches us that the prelude to abundant life is – goodwill; goodness; a good word.  Like the rain and the snow that come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, our lives and words as human beings are means by which God uses to accomplish God’s purposes of peace and justice.

(Ecumenical Accompaniment during Friday Demonstrations at Sheikh Jarrah)

Reflecting on the rare weather which Palestine and Israel has experienced in the past week and acknowledging the higher ways and thoughts of God, our attitude towards rain and snow (and life in general) is very important in our journey towards peace and justice.  Let us realize that we, like rain and snow, are the very instruments in God’s harmonious symphony of peace and justice.

May all those who experience the rain and snow in Palestine and Israel (and wherever you may be) get a glimpse of God’s purposes for it and be led out in joy and back in peace.


Glory to God and Peace on Earth!

God of Life, Lead us to Justice and Peace!


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Heightened Senses and Note to Mother

At Checkpoint Qalandiya: Heightened Senses and note to Mother

By Jec Dan Borlado (Ecumenical Accompanier, Jerusalem)


Dear Mother,


Today, I went to accompany the people at Qalandiya..

There were 250 queued when I arrived..

I started to greet them, “As-Salāmu `Alaykum”..

Surprised; they then smiled..


If you asked me what I heard..

Distant murmuring and chirping birds..

I thought Spring is coming..

As I counted turnstiles turning..


If you asked me what I saw..

Barbed-wire, metal bars, people coming more and more..

I saw soldiers, duty shifting..

While on the barbed-wire, the birds seemed like dancing..


(Looking up..)


If you asked me what I smelled..

Second-hand smoke: my lungs were overwhelmed..

I smelled some coffee too..

Smelly armpits, there were a few..


If you asked me what I felt..

The cold from the steel bars didn’t help..

Then I saw a woman queuing..

It was then, I felt like crying..


I couldn’t help it..

From the people – I turned away..

I had to find a mask to cover my face..

As the tears were coming at a very fast pace!


So I went to a darker place inside the checkpoint..

I sat down, I didn’t want to disappoint..

The reason and purpose of my coming..

To see how Palestinians-Israelis were doing..


I cried as I saw you in her..

Would you have made breakfast for me before going there..?

Lining up with mostly men..

Trying to cope with this unbelievable regimen..


I also thought I saw Father..

Approaching him, I did not bother..

He was praying there on his knees..

As maybe faith would offer him release..


Yet, it was not you nor father..

You’re safe and sound, I gather..

You are not Palestinian nor Israeli..

Who don’t experience this daily..


From this terrible state and condition..

I believe there needs a revolution..

But peace is a dream here..

You must fight for what you hold dear..


I hope that time will come..

When the people here will overcome..

The suffering and humiliation..

Both sides must seek to end the occupation!



(Going through..)

You are my source of support..

To non-violence we resort..

This is no way to live on earth..

Imagine this was your place of birth..


I can’t understand why..

And I may never get the answer till I die..

How justice and peace and life serene..

Will come forIsraelandPalestine..!


I must now end this prose..

You still have things to do, I suppose..

But think of me, of them, of others..

As we co-exist beyond worthless barriers..


With all my love,

Your child


Glory to God and Peace on Earth!

God of Life, Lead us to Justice and Peace!

(Hope: A sunrise at Zaytoun Checkpoint)


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Checkpoint at 420

Checkpoint at 420
By Jec Dan Borlado (Ecumenical Accompanier, Jerusalem)

Note: You will need to watch a few videos in this blog post.. ☺

February 23, 2012 – It was 4:20am when we arrived at Qalandiya Checkpoint – a
checkpoint located three kilometers south of Ramallah (capital of Palestine), right
in the heart of Palestinian population.

One of the priorities of Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) from the Jerusalem
Team is to monitor Checkpoint (CP) Qalandiya – one of the biggest checkpoints in
the West Bank. The team monitors how many men, women, and children pass
between the hours of 4:30 to 7:30 in the morning; the average time it takes from
one side to the other by going through the checkpoint ourselves; and the use of the
Humanitarian Line where children below the age of 16, persons requiring medical
assistance with proper permits, women, and senior citizens can pass when the
soldier on duty opens it. The Humanitarian Line usually opens at around 6:15am
after the next shift starts.

“Machsomim” is a Hebrew word meaning permanent or temporary installations
where soldiers check pedestrians, vehicles, and passengers wishing to travel
internally in the West Bank or cross between Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Below is a link to a video entitled: KALANDIA – a Checkpoint’s story – a film by
Neta Efrony / Israel 2008. It was uploaded on YouTube by JMTFilmsDistribution
on Sep 13, 2009. It gives you an overview about the history and experience of the


Hillel Halkin in his editorial “The Purpose of Checkpoints” with the New York
Sun dated May 30, 2006 says that “the purpose of the checkpoints is to save Israeli
lives, not to embitter Palestinian ones, even if they end up doing both.”

Also, Joshua Sokol, Aaron Brecher, Danny Cramer, Joanna Lang, and Sam Green
– students at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, USA and members of
Swarthmore Organization for Israel say in an editorial/opinion published (April 7,
2010) with the Swarthmore Daily Gazette opine “that the checkpoints and security
barrier, onerous and in some ways monstrous as they can be, do not have as their
most essential purpose the oppression of the Palestinian people, but rather the
protection of the Israeli people and the prevention of violent clashes between the
extremists of all sides.”

On the other hand, Marcy Newman, who lives in Nablus in the West Bank, says
“these checkpoints are not to keep people in and out – it is to make people think
they cannot get in or out.  It is to make their lives difficult.  It is to create a
mentality of people who see themselves as imprisoned” in a blog post with Global
Voices Online dated 27th of March, 2009.

Let me share another link to a video made by Machsomwatch at Qalandiya
Checkpoint. Machsomwatch is a movement of Israeli women, peace activists
from all sectors of Israeli society, who oppose the Israeli occupation and the denial
of Palestinians’ rights to move freely in their land with the aim of attempting to
influence public opinion in the country and in the world, and thus to bring to an
end the destructive occupation, which causes damage to Israeli society as well as
to Palestinian society.  (For more information, please visit



Four minutes and twenty seconds (4:20) into the video a Palestinian man says, “It can’t be
better than this!”

Can’t it really be better? Let me end this write up with another short video made by myself during a visit to Qalandiya Checkpoint on February 23, 2012.



I’ve tried to present both sides of the issue (with the help of a few videos) of checkpoints here in Palestine and Israel, particularly at Qalandiya Checkpoint. I have also shared with you my first-hand experience there.

You must now reflect whether you think the checkpoint in Qalandiya and all other checkpoints similar to it are necessary, ethical, and constructive to human life and community.

Glory to God and Peace on Earth!
God of Life, Lead us to Justice and Peace!

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Power of the People

People Power: what it offers to Palestine and Israel, and what Palestine
and Israel offer back

By Jec Dan Borlado (Ecumenical Accompanier, Jerusalem)

February 25, 2012 was the 26th anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution of the Philippines.

The Philippines was praised worldwide in 1986, when the so-called bloodless revolution erupted.  Called EDSA People Power’s Revolution, February 25, 1986 marked a significant national event that has been engraved in the hearts and minds of every Filipino. This part of Philippine history gives a strong sense of pride especially in the way that other nations have attempted to emulate the true power of democracy exemplified in this mass movement.  EDSA People Power ousted a tyrant through a culminating mass demonstration (2-3 million people) without tolerance for violence and bloodshed.  Prayers and rosaries strengthened by faith were the only weapons that the Filipinos used to recover their freedom.  (For more information visit

Recognizing that the Palestinian and Israeli struggle for democracy and peace is in a very different context, the phenomenon of a People Power – a joint venture combining the forces of the Heads of Religious communities, believing civilians, the “Opposition”, the Oligarchs (i.e. the ruling few), the “Left” wing, and Military officers, is delusional.

Yet, because of the fact that it has happened – it does not remain impossible. A bloodless revolution, however small the possibility maybe, will always have the chance to become reality for kindred hearts and minds.  The EDSA People Power revolution of 1986 offers this opportunity.


(Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) in 1986)

Conversely, for a nation (Philippines) that boasts of a famous revolution without tolerance for violence and bloodshed, anniversary celebrations are worthless if “incessant oil price hike, power rate hike, and increases in the price of basic good and commodities, and lack of basic social services for the marginalized Filipinos,” continues to be a reality according to Gabriela party-list representative Emmie de Jesus in a February 25, 2012 article by the Manila Bulletin.

What the Palestinian and Israeli reality easily offers back to the Philippine reality is the “log in your own eye” principle.  Jesus Christ (yes, the one that rose from the dead!) puts it more clearly in a verse in Matthew 7:4 “[Or] how can you say to your neighbour, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye?”

Until there is the provision and abundance of basic social services, translated as – free and clean drinking water, healthy and nutritious food, clothing, housing, health care, and restorative rehabilitation of deviants into mainstream society – neither the Philippines nor any country has any right to claim or celebrate the achievement of democracy.


(Friday Prayers outside the Al-Bustan tent, Silwan Neighborhood, East Jerusalem exemplifying non-violent resistance to on-going settler harassment and 88 house demolition orders affecting 1500 Palestinian Jerusalemites. February 24, 2012 was the 3rd year anniversary of the tent.)

Glory to God and Peace on Earth!

God of Life, Lead us to Justice and Peace!

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