Holy Land Pilgrimage

“Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.”

March 10, 2022

This past Friday my classmates and I had the opportunity to pray the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrows) here in Jerusalem, giving us a glimpse of what it would have been like for Jesus Christ. It was amazing to gather with the Franciscans who led the Stations of the Cross throughout the city, along with the many different religious orders and pilgrims that came to pray. Even with the many faithful who gathered to pray along the steps of Jesus, I started to feel alone. Only about 2% of the population in Israel are Christian, and that was even more apparent from the confused stares of the local people trying to walk through the streets. Locals would push through and laugh, and people on tricycles began to honk, unfamiliar with what was going on. I was not sure how I was supposed to not lash out at the people, let alone pray the stations of the cross. “Jesus was laughed at and ignored too.” My classmate who walked alongside me reminded me why I was here in the first place. Christianity was never supposed to be the popular religion; God became incarnate in Jesus Christ to cause a radical shift in the way people were living their lives. The Messiah who was expected to be a warrior king came a man who preached love, mercy, and repentance. Rather than demand the conversion of those around him, Jesus Christ went up to cavalry and died for all of mankind, especially those who were laughing at us now. I was reminded about how little my love for God was during those steps, and how much more I need to grow in order to serve as a priest of Jesus Christ. Just like our faith, the priesthood is not a glamorous job. To this day, the church is trying to repair the wounds committed by those members within it. Many days will be about swallowing my pride and serving the people of Las Vegas in ways I won’t expect. Because of the gift I have received from Jesus Christ, I now have the opportunity to offer up my life and serve the people wholeheartedly. At the end of the Via Dolorosa, we were led to the tomb of the Holy Sepulcher. What felt like an individual journey throughout the city reminded me that I was not in this alone, that there are many others who have fallen in love with Jesus Christ. Please continue to pray for me and my brother seminarians as we prepare for diaconate ordination, and please know I am praying for you all too.

AJ Sales
Diocese of Las Vegas

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