Holy Land Pilgrimage

There is Hope in this Broken yet Beautiful World

January 23, 2020

As I’ve walked through the streets of a land that witnessed the most important event in the history of the cosmos, I’ve experienced both a real sense of awe and a palpable sense of tension. You can feel something heavy on the minds and hearts of the people. More than ever, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: humanity needs a savior. The human condition needs redemption and salvation; we can all recognize that something is wrong in our human existence.

Today my classmate and I visited a museum. There we found a painting depicting the mighty arm of God reaching down into a war-torn, dark, and demolished city square. In the hand of God was a little baby sleeping peacefully and, under him, was a patch of fresh grass. Naturally, we interpreted this painting to be a depiction of the Incarnation: God entering into His creation that is so desperate for a savior and bringing life into a world lost in darkness, sin, and death.

A Muslim woman walked up to my classmate and asked him if he understood the painting. “I do,” he replied, “and it’s beautiful.” She agreed that it was beautiful and explained that this painting was of the arm of God reaching down and pulling one of His children up out of this dark and broken world, rescuing them from danger.

I was struck by this. Here stood a Christian and a Muslim looking at the same painting, both with a sense of hope born out of our mutual belief that our God is a personal God who sees us and actively cares for us. However, our interpretations and hopeful expectations were profoundly different. She seemed to believe that God brought hope by removing us from the darkness of our world, while we believe that He entered into it the mess of it all to experience it in solidarity with us. We believe He willingly entered into it all as a helpless little baby out of love for us.

The Christian proposal is one that is entirely unique in the history of human existence. The all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present God emptied Himself of His divinity, took on human flesh and dwelt among us to reconcile us to Himself and to save us from the sin and darkness of this world. It is a radical claim; one that cannot be found in any other religion or system of belief. I am more convinced than ever that humanity needs a savior; I need a savior. The good news is that some 2020 years ago, our savior came to this land and dwelt among us. He shared in this broken yet beautiful world and in all of the pain, love, suffering, joy, war, peace, death and life that comes with it.

Robert Cotta
Archdiocese of Atlanta

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