Holy Land Pilgrimage

Mt. Arbel and the Great Commission

February 24, 2020

Blog postSomething inside us wants to experience God through his gift of creation. In many ways creation is one of the ways in which God makes himself known to us. The human person, being a creature, longs to be one with the creator through his creation. Personally, many of these longing experiences happen to me when I look at the majesty of mountains. For me, these mountains call me. They draw me in. Something inside brings me to mountains, but I had never felt sent from the mountain. That changed on the top of Mount Arbel.

Tradition holds that Mount Arbel is the mountain Matthew mentions at the end of his gospel. Imagine the disciples climbing a mountain with Jesus. They wonder, what is he going to teach us now? During a moment when their tired bodies wander from the path, their heavy eyes rest momentarily on the Mountain of Beatitudes off into the distance. From there, their eyes easily wander towards the glistening shores of the Sea of Galilee where they witnessed Jesus multiply 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed over 5,000 people. Finally, their eyes drift to the fishermen on the sea, recalling the memory when Jesus first called them to follow him.

The disciples bring all these experiences with them up the mountain. Having reached the top after an arduous climb, Jesus compels his disciples “to go; therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20). The mountain on which they were sent, became the mountain from which they were sent.blog pict

From this location Jesus, in the act of sending his disciples, tells them to go with their experiences. They are sent with their initial call by the sea. They are sent with their experience of the multiplication of loaves and fish. They are sent with teaching of the Beatitudes. But they must reinterpret and re-view these experiences, literally, because of the new geographical and spiritual perspective given to them by Jesus.

Likewise, for us pilgrims. On this mountain, we read and heard Jesus’ great commission anew. It became new because we too walked, as the disciples did, along the Sea of Galilee reflecting on our own calls. We heard, as they did, God’s Eternal Word. We ate, as they did, God’s Eternal Eucharistic Bread at the site of the Multiplication. Through this Eucharist, we became, as they did, Beatitude Himself at the Mount of Beatitudes.Blog post

And now, we understood, as the disciples understood, that we too were sent to the mountain for the sake of being sent from the mountain.

Eric Zenisek
Archdiocese of Dubuque

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