Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Holy Land

May 19 - June 1, 2013

Of the 255 pictures I took on my recent Holy Land retreat which concluded my year at the Institute of Religious Formation in Chicago, this might not seem to be the most meaningful one.  After all, it appears to be only a rock! However its significance is monumental. The location is the Taghba on the shore of the Lake of Galilee. According to tradition this is the rock from which Jesus called out to the disciples who had been fishing all night, thereby revealing himself to them after his resurrection.  It is also recognized as the location where Jesus and his disciples had breakfast that morning and where Jesus asked Peter three times after breakfast,"Simon, . . . , do you love me?". (See John 21)

We began our two-week trip to Israel in Galilee and our visit to the Taghba was on the first day.  The trip ended with three days in Jerusalem.  We were most fortunate that our hotel in Jerusalem was in the old city so we walked everywhere. Since my return people have asked me various questions, such as "What was your favorite site?", "How secure did you feel?", "Did you visit Nazareth?", etc.  Today someone asked me, "What was the most significant event of the trip?" It is a difficult question to answer because several events were significant for different reasons.  As time goes by and I continue to reflect on the trip I have to say that being in Jerusalem was very important to me for many reasons but here is one:  early one morning we got on our bus and drove to the Mount of Olives, to the very top.  From there we could look over to Jerusalem, across the Kidron Valley. As the morning wore on we walked down, first to where Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and then to Gethsemane.  I now have a sense of the distances that Jesus walked, especially from the Upper Room and the Last Supper to his crucifixion on Good Friday. Sister Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ, our tour guide, was right when she told us that we would never listen to scripture in the same way again.  I now conclude with another picture; this one is taken at the church at Gethsemane and one of my classmates is praying at the rock which tradition tells us is the rock that Jesus prayed at during his night of agony in the garden.

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