Holy Land Pilgrimage

Make Yourself at Home

February 12, 2022

As we depart from Nazareth in Galilee, I am yet again reminded of home. Something I’ve been struck by since we began visiting places in northern Israel is how similar the landscape looks to much of the Pacific Northwest, which I call home. Galilee is hilly, and it has lots of green trees and lush, green fields – this time of year. The couple of times that we have been to the rocky coast of the Mediterranean, I can’t help feeling like I’m somewhere on the United States’ West Coast, only here I’m surrounded by ruins that long predate European exploration of that region. The Jezreel Valley looks from a distance much like valleys in the Pacific Northwest (e.g., Willamette and Skagit), though a closer look will reveal a much different assortment of plants. Even the weather is reminiscent of home: intermittent clouds and rain with some remarkably sunny days that are greeted with delight because they’re not regular enough to be expected.

These are all superficial observations of a land that has a much deeper significance. Certainly, that God became a man here, revealed Himself in the exercise of ministry here, and died and rose here is much more significant than that I’m reminded somewhat of home here. Yet, in doing all those things, God made His home here; and He invites me to make my home in Him – in Jesus’ Mystical Body, in the Church, in the Heavenly Homeland. So, even while it’s not essential, neither is it insignificant that I’m reminded of home in the home that my God shared with me. It’s an access point to a greater experience of union with Jesus, who makes me more and more “at home” in Him.

Through this lens, I see in a new way the providence of the amazing hospitality that we have received throughout the pilgrimage. As our hosts say – through their words, their gestures, and the food they prepare – “make yourself at home,” I can hear Jesus echoing, “make yourself at home in Me, here in the place that I called home.”

Not long from now, I’ll be going “home” to the United States, and eventually to the Pacific Northwest, where I hope to serve as a deacon and then as a priest. It is my sincere hope that as I gradually make myself at home in ordained ministry, Jesus, who invites me to abide in His love, will make me more and more at home in Him. In this Heavenly Home of His Body, the Church, I pray that my diakonia (service) will always echo His hospitable invitation to me: “make yourself at home.”

John Paul Tomassi
Archdiocese of Seattle

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