April 4, 2018
Until now, I can still remember how everyone in my class was very excited preparing for this pilgrimage. We were given checklists for all the things that we need to bring, for the places that we could visit, and of course the must-visit restaurants where we could eat some delicious and affordable local food. It is still clear in my memory how Fr. Dennis, our pilgrimage director, repeatedly told us that we are pilgrims, not tourists, that we journey, reflect, and pray about the Holy sites, not go only to take pictures of them.
As days have passed in the Holy Land, walking as a pilgrim and reflecting about my vocation, one word that keeps coming back to me is the word “apostle”. Maybe this is because we cannot separate the apostles of Jesus from His stories, that whenever we hear the story of Jesus, we also hear the stories of apostles. Whenever we visit Holy sites, we often hear their names included in the story. These apostles are great inspirations because they left everything and accepted the call of Jesus Christ.
However, the word “apostle” is a gem in itself. The word apostle is from the Greek word “Apostolos” which means “one who is sent off”. But apostles are not sent off like tourists who go somewhere for vacation. They are sent off with a mission: to proclaim the good news to all the nations and to the peripheries of the world. They were not sent to comfortable places, but they were sent to the places that were uncomfortable for them. And as we know from their stories the apostles of Jesus were martyred because of their work of evangelization.
Reflecting upon the gem of the word apostle, I am reminded that as a Catholic and as an aspiring priest, I am also “sent off” not to go on a vacation, but I am sent by Jesus to do His will and to go on a mission, to places that I am uncomfortable with: to the places of division, to the places of hatred, to the places of fear, etc., to bring His good news and His light to these places. As I go back to pursue my formation and prepare to be a priest of the future, I print in my heart the gem of the word apostle, that I am one who is sent off and carry the burning fire of eagerness to do the Father’s will and to proclaim His good news.
May all of us live to be true apostles of Jesus Christ, those who sent off and go to do the mission entrusted to us as faithful servants of God.
By Peter Pedrasa, Diocese of Tucson
Photos by Declan McNicholas, Diocese of Gary, and Peter Pedrasa, Diocese of Tucson