Driving up the road in the area of Rachel's Tomb, the traditional burial place of the wife of Jacob, one comes to a crossroad. In the middle of this intersection is a giant guard tower, one of many along Israel's 400-mile “separation wall,” part of which encloses Bethlehem. Painted on the tower is a sign for the neighboring Caritas Baby Hospital — a hosptial described by Pope Benedict XVI on his 2009 visit as “one of the smaller bridges built for peace."
It is possible at this crossroads to turn either left or right. Either way, one will run into Jesus.
If we turn to the left and travel 100 yards, we encounter the compassionate face of Jesus. Here, Caritas Baby Hospital provides medical assistance to more than 38,000 suffering and disadvantaged children a year. The hospital accepts every child, irrespective of religion, nationality, or social background. The dignity of the human being is at the center of all their efforts.
Hospitals, clinics, schools, and institutions like these are vital to the mission of the church. Yet especially here in the Holy Land, we are also called to a deeper understanding and compassion.
For that we need only return to the intersection and turn right.
One hundred yards to the right of the crossroad, we encounter a different face of Jesus — the suffering face of Christ. Here, he calls us not just to provide, but to understand and to walk along with him. He asks us to consider, "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" For many, it is a harder road and so one less taken. Down this road is the home of a Christian Palestinian family.