Holy Land Pilgrimage

Looking Out Over Calvary

March 2, 2020

It was around 12:30pm on our first Friday in Jerusalem that I decided to go up to the top of our hotel after lunch to look out over the holy city.

I looked out at the two magnificent domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, home to our Lord’s empty tomb and to Calvary; the very spot where our Lord dangled on the Cross, gasping for every last precious breath, arms stretched wide in agony as he was suspended between Heaven and earth.

The day was warm and the sun was high and bright as it beat down on the back of my neck.  As I looked out over Calvary I realized that I was enjoying the unique privilege of gazing out at Golgotha on a Lenten Friday at the very hour when our Lord was crucified.

I prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet, noticing a peace both in my own heart and in the birds-eye view of the old city, which I knew was actually bustling with activity down below.

Outside the walls of the old city it was business-as-usual. Car horns honked, dozens of busses packed with international tourists and pilgrims jammed the city streets, the trams rolled past, and many Orthodox Jews could be seen out and about as they prepared to observe the Sabbath that would begin in just a few hours at sundown.

Could there be a more perfect setting in which to picture our Lord on the Cross?

The silence of Calvary is deafening in the modern era. Some 2,020 years ago our Lord hung on the Cross in this very city during the most important 48 hours in the existence of the cosmos. As He did, one can only guess how many thousands of people went about their Friday afternoon business as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

For all but a privileged few, Good Friday was an ordinary day.

Herein lays the great mystery of our existence that’s awoken in the human heart as one walks the way of the Cross and visits the holiest sites in Christianity. It’s an ordinary city, whose ancient walls mark the site of the most extraordinary event in human existence.

The extraordinary event that unfolded here on an ordinary Friday afternoon transformed creation, so that all things ordinary now share in the extraordinary nature of the Divine.

Praise be to Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of all creation, who by His Cross and Resurrection has invited every ordinary human heart to turn to Calvary from wherever they are in the universe, gazing at His arms outstretched in an embrace of love as He reunites Heaven and earth for eternity. Amen

Robbie Cotta

Archdiocese of Atlanta

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