A Beacon of Hope
January 30, 2020
The pilgrims of Mundelein Seminary have been visiting and praying at various holy sites in the Holy Land. Among them is a seemingly less conventional holy site, namely Bethlehem University. Surely one can find God in the eucharistic species at the university chapel, but the air of God seems to surround the campus.
Upon entering, the first words out of my mouth were “this takes me back.” What impacted me most was not the warm welcomes from the gracious religious brothers, staff members, and students nor the beautiful integration of stone buildings and gardens around campus. It was the fact that this was a normal university: circles of friends chatting and laughing, students and faculty scurrying to classes, and lots of books (only some opened). It took me back to my days of undergraduate studies; I smiled as I looked around, surrounded by vibrant young adults determined to work toward a brighter future.
Surely we have all heard the phrase, “knowledge is power.” Knowledge is great: it helps us get degrees and sound fancy at a dinner party. However, knowledge is so much more than that. I was reminded that knowledge truly is a gift, a gift I have often taken for granted. Knowledge affirms our human dignity; knowledge is what separates us from animals, who eat and sleep and breathe but cannot reason like us. Knowledge is an imperishable treasure; all our material gains, property, wealth, and whatnot can be lost in an instant, but our knowledge will remain with us…it can never be taken away. Knowledge builds bridges of communion… here is a place where people of various religious, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds come together, learn about their respective differences, yet, despite all this, can come to respect and embrace each other as fellow humans. The mission of the university is well explained in their recent video:
As a seminarian, I am amazed at experiencing Bethlehem. God entered into our human history in Bethlehem to bring hope to the nations! Similarly, God seems to continue working in human history at Bethlehem University. He continues to bring hope; He does this by simply being who He is…Truth, Justice, Love, Communion…
God is always in our midst; He still shines bright for us to see. We simply must open our eyes; I simply must open my eyes.
St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago