Holy Land Pilgrimage

Living the Mysterion  

March 17, 2020

The Greek word mysterion is often translated as the English word mystery, but in early Christian Theology and Orthodox Theology, this word translates to Sacrament. In one of the first homilies we heard on our pilgrimage here in the Holy Land, the priest preached about the mystery of our faith. That here, in this land, the mystery was lived and experienced. Here, in this land, God visited His people in the flesh and drew us into a deeper and more personal encounter with Him that would spread throughout the world. And that is what a Sacrament is, an encounter with the living God, inviting us to participate in His divine life by grace, through sign and symbol.

Within this thought of the mystery, of the mysterion, of the Sacrament, we were able to encounter Jesus Christ. Over this pilgrimage, we have visited many places associated with the life of Jesus, while encountering Jesus himself in the Sacrament of the Eucharist that we celebrated at these holy sites. From the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, to the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem, to the Church at Cana, to the Mount of Beatitudes, to the seashore of the Sea of Galilee, up to the mountain of Calvary, and finally to the Empty Tomb, we were able to encounter the Risen Lord, truly and fully, in the Eucharistic meal.

It doesn’t matter if it was this rock or that rock that Jesus sat upon when he gave the sermon on the mount. It doesn’t matter if Jesus was born in a cave or in a stable. It doesn’t matter if the empty Tomb in the Holy Sepulcher is the third structure over the Tomb (the first two being destroyed in 614 and 1009). What matters is encountering the mystery, encountering the Sacrament, encountering the Risen Lord. And it does not matter if one is in Jerusalem, or Munich, or Seoul, or Chicago to need to encounter the Risen Lord. Throughout the world, the same mysterion is lived and encountered, the same Risen Lord comes to us, to draw us into a more profound and personal relationship with Him.

As we move closer to our ordinations to the diaconate in the next few weeks and ultimately priesthood in the next year, our duty as heralds of the Gospel and imitating the mysteries we celebrate have been deepened through our encounter with Christ in this Holy Land. By our own personal encounter with the Risen Lord, first at His invitation to discern the priesthood, and subsequently throughout our journey through Seminary formation and here on this pilgrimage, we are strengthened in our witness to the truths of our faith. That Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, that he was born, died, was buried, and he rose from the dead. The joy of this faith cannot be taken away, and this pilgrimage has given us the vigor by living the mysterion to proclaim this truth throughout our lives of upcoming ordained ministry.

Andy Matijevic
Archdiocese of Chicago

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