Holy Land Pilgrimage

A Voice of One Calling

February 7, 2019

“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Is. 40:3-5


We are now a couple of weeks into our pilgrimage. We left behind us days of great spiritual evolvement by living out experiences that we will need some time to reflect on in order to integrate into our life. One of them, for me, was for example the meditation in the desert of Judea, in which one cannot but remember the forty days that Jesus spent there to prepare himself for his imminent public life. Like Jesus, we also need moments of listening, recollection and silence; to mature and make our decisions.

We met the Judean desert in its literal sense, a desolate, arid and dry place; a place cut off from life; a place of wandering and restlessness; a place where the newly baptized Jesus was forced to dwell, and where He would encounter Satan himself and He also taught us the way to overcome worldly temptations. Like Jesus, all of us are eventually thrust into the wilderness of life. It was in the desert where Jesus suffered from hunger, thirst, and loneliness; it was there, in the desert, where He was tempted to desperation, and to give up on God altogether.

No doubt, many of us pilgrims, and also those reading these lines, have gone through several wildernesses — perhaps a life-threatening or serious illness, the death of a loved one, separation from a partner, the suffering of a child, the death of a dream, failure, addiction, bankruptcy, loss of reputation, rejection of a friend, and on and on; I offer my prayers for all of you, and the good news is that it is precisely by experiencing the wilderness that we can experience God in a more authentic way, to have a broader sense of the human reason and appetite, and to be called to a more intensive interior reflection that will assist us in developing greater courage so that we might walk more closely with Him who provides water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to us, his chosen people.

I am very happy for this great opportunity to visit the desert as a pilgrim, precisely because it helps me to rekindle my love for God and for the Holy Scriptures, to experience God, who is always present, even in the most hostile environment where life seems to be almost impossible or in any case very difficult.

During the last three weeks, I have been able to think and reflect in a more intense way on my vocation to the priesthood. And I’m blessed to re-affirm His call, and to journey along with this particular class, this bunch of holy men that have a genuine desire to know and follow Jesus Christ and to receive Him every day in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.


Martin Marulanda

Archdiocese of Chicago

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