Holy Land Pilgrimage

The Spirit of a Pilgrim

January 21, 2022

I can’t help but try to describe the wonder and unique feeling that one gets walking in the streets of Bethlehem. Whatever time of day, either early in the morning with all the vendors opening their shops, people of the city heading to work, students coming and going to school, there is noise, you can hear it, you can see it. I look at my map to make sure I am going to the right place. Being that this is the first time that I have traveled abroad, I am amazed at everything that I am seeing. I begin to get excited and rush through everything. Then I reach the Church of the Nativity; you read the sign: “The Birthplace of Jesus”, and it all becomes real; I slow down, I take in the moment of where I am standing. I am here, in the Holy Land! These past several days, some verses of the Liturgy of the Hours has included the word “pilgrim,” be it in the Office of Readings, morning prayer, or daytime prayer, I am constantly reminded of who I am, what I am doing on this trip and eventually the pilgrimage of life itself.

Amongst all of the noise and busyness that is around, with the traffic and the conversations among us, when I got to the church of the Nativity, and I knelt there in the place where Christ was born, I thought, I am indeed a pilgrim. Along with all my brother seminarians, priests and faculty, we join the other people who come here to this holy sight to pray, visit, see the wonders for themselves, and be caught in that amazement. For me, it’s one of the best feelings in the world to be where the scriptures come alive in our hearts – if we let them.

The fact that we traveled thousands and thousands of miles, joining the millions of pilgrims who have come here throughout the centuries to see the most extraordinary event in human history helps grow the pilgrim spirit. Upon one of the doors of a church reads the quote: “If you enter here as a tourist, you would exit as a pilgrim. If you enter here as a pilgrim, you would exit as a holier one.” It’s a good reminder to not simply see the amazing things that God gives us as bystanders but take in the little things, the moments that matter. Being a pilgrim on this trip, I recognize that there is much to see, yet slowing down and letting the busyness of my life be put aside allows us to take in the moment in which we get to participate.

Jesus Gomez
Diocese of Tuscon

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