Holy Land Pilgrimage

Encountering Jesus (Articulo Bilingue)

January 5, 2023

Being on this pilgrimage to the Holy Land has been an eye-opening experience. It has been amazing to be able to contemplate the beauty and richness of this land. I refer to its culture, food, and especially its people.

I always remember what our director of pilgrimage, Father Kasule, said at the beginning of this experience: “it is important to know the Holy Places, but it is also important to know the people who make possible that these Holy places are still here among us. We should be thankful to the people that take care of them, and to the people who still live around them, so that we are able to visit them.” And I think that’s so true! This Holy Land is Holy for Jesus living here, but also Holy for the people that currently live here. It is incredible how people talk to you in the churches, streets, stores, or restaurants, even in and through cultural differences. They talk to you everywhere and every time, as if they knew you from many years ago.

I think that “having encounters” has been my favorite part on this pilgrimage. Pope Francis has invited us to be intentional when we talk to someone, so we can really care and listen to the person in front of us. An encounter is to be there for someone, to listen, to understand, to help, to love the other. It is about recognizing Jesus present in the other person. This pilgrimage has given us the opportunity to meet many people from all over the world, and we have attended masses in different languages such as English, Spanish, German, Italian, and Arabic. But I would say that the real beauty in it is the richness and variety of the Church, and that all of us are united by the same faith in the Lord Jesus. When we are open to that reality of faith, we will see each person as our friend, our brother or sister, because we also discover Jesus in that person.

Muchas veces vamos por la vida creyendo que Dios sólo está en el templo o dentro del sagrario, lo cual es correcto, pero olvidamos que Dios está también presente en nuestros hermanos. Cuando recorremos la Tierra Santa para conocer la historia y el desarrollo de toda esta región, nos damos cuenta de lo importante que es considerar cualquier lugar donde Jesús estuvo como santo, y es Santo porque Dios lo hace Santo. Pero es santo también por las personas que viven aquí y que tienen una fe muy profunda que los lleva a mantenerse de pie ante cualquier situación, problema o sufrimiento.

Creo que tenemos mucho que aprender en nuestro peregrinaje por la vida. Dios nos llama a ser compasivos, misericordiosos, y a ayudar siempre a los demás. A veces vivimos en una burbuja personal-familiar que nos impide reconocer que Dios está presente también afuera de los templos. Jesús está presente en nuestros hermanos y hermanas con los que compartimos cada día y en cada lugar. Hagamos que nuestro peregrinaje por la vida, en cualquier parte donde estemos, sirva para reconocer esos lugares Santos donde Dios se hace presente.

We all are on a pilgrimage, the pilgrimage of life, it is time to discover every Holy place where God manifests himself to us. Those Holy places could be our house, our work, our school, our family, our Church. It is time to recognize the face of Jesus on every person around us, so we can treat them with love, respect, and appreciation. I invite all of you to have an encounter with Jesus, not just in the Church, or in front of the tabernacle, but also with Jesus present in our brothers and sisters everywhere we go.

By: Luis Ron

Diocese of Joliet.

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