Holy Land Pilgrimage

At the Place of the Incarnation

February 8, 2018

The bells rung in the distance cheering pilgrims on their way. Everything around is cheerful. How could we not be cheerful in the place where the Word became flesh and spent years of quiet work besides his parents “growing in stature and wisdom” (Lk 2:52)? Being at the place of the Incarnation fills me with great wonder and awe. Being at the place where God came to dwell among us is very humbling for me. It reminds me precisely of the meaning of my vocation that is expressed through the words of St. Paul: “Christ’s love compels us” (2 Cor 5:14).

Meditating on the quiet years of Jesus and Mary of silent work and faithful obedience to God’s plan helps me also to remember the importance of making the most of my formation, and the importance of studying and working hard — striving to grow in holiness and humility. Nazareth also brings close to my heart my mom, brother, family and friends. It has been a great opportunity to pray in a special and deeper way for them. As the Holy Family was for Jesus, they have been an anchor for me and a means by which I have grown closer to God.

Finally, looking forward to my ordination and ministry, some things have become clearer and have obtained new light and meaning. First of all, the importance of being close to God by means of prayer and the sacraments, specially the Eucharist. Flowing from this is the importance of community: family, friends, and those who we encounter daily.

I could not finish this reflection without asking all of you to maintain our class in your prayers as we continue to pray for all of you during our pilgrimage. Greetings to all!

By Gerardo Olivera (Archdiocese of San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Photos by Declan McNicholas (Diocese of Gary) and Peter Pedrasa (Diocese of Tucson)

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