One week into my “new life” in the Holy Land and I am overwhelmed by the blessings and newness of this place. There are constant paradoxes…a place of strife amidst varying cultures, yet a place where many discover peace of heart; a place of much division of beliefs, yet belief in the one same God.
This week brought a triple blessing as I contemplated the principal mysteries of my faith in the actual places where they took place some 2000 years ago. A trip to Bethlehem brought me to my knees in the heart of the cave where Jesus was born, receiving my Jesus in the Eucharist. At the same time, on top of the cave, the Greek Orthodox celebrated the Assumption of Our Lady and a Muslim guard protected both areas to assure that the celebrations went undisturbed.
The next day, I participated in Mass in a Franciscan Church that stands alongside the Upper Room, the revered place of many sacraments: the first Eucharistic celebration (Last Supper), Pentecost, Confession and Holy Orders (Jn 20:19-23). Yet it belongs to the Jews who guard it and invite people to enter the first floor where tradition has placed the Tomb of David.
As if this weren’t enough graces for one week, I rose early on Monday morning and walked 15 minutes from the Notre Dame Center to the Holy Sepulcher. With so few pilgrims I was able to enter the tomb and participate in Mass. Kneeling before the stone upon which Jesus was lain and placing my hands upon it, I thought of the power of the resurrection and prayed for faith for those who do not believe.
Exiting the tomb of the Holy Sepulcher you can walk within the Church to Mount Calvary. (Jn 19:41). I knelt within 3 feet of where Jesus’ cross is believed to have stood. Four feet to my left a priest was celebrating Mass. At the consecration I thought of how the blood of Christ continues to be shed for the sins of many. Every Eucharistic celebration “re-presents” Jesus’ Last Supper, suffering on Calvary and Resurrection and outpouring at Pentecost.
We have it all…the grace of all Christ’s mysteries are present to us again in each Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. His love is very creative! Thank you Jesus!
Perhaps 2015 is the year you visit the Holy Land. Here is an opportunity: Jerusalem Pilgrimage 2015