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Holy Land Pilgrimage

“It is finished”

March 13, 2019

To our loyal followers, this will be the last blog post! It is hard to believe that nine weeks has already come and gone. But I hope that you all have enjoyed reading these posts, as I know the guys have had writing them or making the videos, and due to alphabetical order, it is my honor to get to write the last post.

In one of our final days in the Holy Land we had an open day to go and explore the city of Jerusalem, so two of my brother seminarians and I decided we would walk in the footsteps of Jesus on His journey from His Agony in Garden to the place where He was laid in the tomb.

We started by waking up early and walking to the base of the Mount of Olives where there is a church built around the place that Jesus would have prayed in Agony in Garden of Gethsemane, before Judas betrayed him. As we entered the church it was remarkably quiet, because normally there are droves of pilgrims entering and exiting the church trying to get a chance to venerate the spot. We used the time to pray as Jesus did, trying to prepare ourselves to start this journey, to be obedient to the will of the Father by walking in the way of the cross, and down the Via Dolorosa (the path in Old City from the 1st Station of the Cross to Holy Sepulcher where Jesus died, was buried, and rose).

Upon leaving the church we dipped down into the Kidron Valley, where Jesus would have been led after being betrayed by Judas on the way to go to Caiaphas, the high priest’s home. We descended down into the green valley and walked about ¼ mile at the base and then ascended back up the other side, following the old city wall as cars honked and I imagined people shouting like they may have at Jesus.  We arrived at the house of Caiaphas, where we spent about fifteen minutes in prayer before we began our walk around to the beginning of the Via Dolorosa, where Pilate condemns Jesus to death. From there we began our trudge to the Holy Sepulcher, stopping along the way to pray each of the stations of the cross. We were surrounded by the business of the old city, shopkeepers hassling us to buy things, other groups clogging the narrow streets, but it just made the experience feel more real. Then at last we arrived at the Holy Sepulcher and there were crowds all around coming from near and far to see, and in a moment of prayer, John 19:30 came to mind, the last words of Jesus before He gave up His spirit and died, “It is finished.”

These words hit me like a ton of bricks as we Finish up this Pilgrimage. It has truly been a life changing experience and unbelievable blessing from God for all of us. And now although this Pilgrimage of 2019 is finished, it does not stop there, just as it doesn’t stop with Jesus died on the cross. No, there is a newness of life after! The Resurrection! The Ascension! Which we are preparing for this Lent. And having gone on this pilgrimage it will affect us for the rest of our lives, changing how we will read Sacred Scripture and who we will be as preachers of the Word of God, which we all will be ordained shortly to do!

So, on behalf of all my brothers I want to thank all the people who made this trip possible, all of those who have been praying for us and following our blog, our leaders and teachers while on this trip, and Mundelein for letting us be gone so long! It has been a blessing and “It is finished.”

Johnathan Johnson

Diocese of Grand Rapids

 

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