Holy Land Pilgrimage

“It is good that we are here”

December 27, 2022

Being a celibate priest in the Catholic Church is, at one moment, a freedom to be ever-present to the parish you serve as a priest; it also carries with it the unique tensions of meeting the familial hopes and expectations that we have had our entire lives – to be there for family and friends, especially during the holidays.

The apostles knew this tension- they all had their own families, and we hear about their families not infrequently, as the Gospels witness Jesus’ family thinking he had “lost it,” or Peter’s mother in law falling ill, or the mother of John and James trying to get her sons set up for a “cushy” post in the new Messiahship. They all came from diverse familial backgrounds which no doubt tugged at their sense of responsibility to “be there” for their loved ones, while also being there for each other, as the community of Christ’s apostles.

I attached photos of the Church of the Transfiguration, which we visited several weeks ago. The Transfiguration event reminds me of a similar tension faced by Christ and his apostles. What I love is Peter’s heartfelt response to the incredible, albeit overwhelming event unfolding before him: “Lord, it is good that we are here.”

Christmas day was two days ago. Most of us broke away to call our families and loved ones or send videotaped messages. It was uniquely challenging being away from those we love in this Holy Land at this singularly joyous time of year. But after sending our love back home, we all came together as future fellow priests, brothers of a shared calling. It felt comforting that we had each other. Indeed, as God said in Genesis, it is not good for the man to be alone. And we were not alone. We had one another on the Feast of our Lord’s birth in the land of his birth. It felt, as Peter once remarked, good, indeed, for us to be here.

By Justin Ramza

Diocese of Peoria, IL

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