Holy Land Pilgrimage

For Where Your Treasure Is, There Will Your Heart Be Also

February 4, 2018

Fr. Dennis prepped us for this trip to the Holy Land by stressing that this is a pilgrimage and not a vacation. A pilgrimage being an external journey that leads us into an internal journey. I found these words to be very helpful in aiding my preparations for the trip.

We finally arrived on Sunday at 2am after about 30 hours of travel. I was tired that Sunday morning as we gathered for Mass at St. Catherine in Bethlehem for our first liturgy in the Holy Land, but the adrenaline of participating in the Liturgy in the city of the birthplace of our Lord was enough to carry me through the day.

A couple days later, I found myself getting caught up in all the Holy Sites and also the experience of visiting with local shop owners and looking for gifts for my family. At one point, I bumped into some fellow classmates at the city center. While we were catching up and sharing experiences, a young boy approached us. He stuck out his hand holding a pack of gum. Though I did not understand his words, obviously trying to sell the gum to us. I brushed him off since we had been advised of how many people would approach us for money, although I did notice that he was a little dirty. As we started to make our way back, I heard his little voice say, “please,” but my body was already in motion and I kept going.

That night as I reflected on my day during a holy hour with our Lord, I noticed an emptiness in my heart. I couldn’t get that little boy’s voice out of my head. It was then that I realized that in just a few short days, I had allowed the external journey of shopping and looking at historical stones to keep from what I really came here to experience… the living stones. It was in them that I would find the face of Jesus. Since that day I have spent my time looking at the real treasures of my pilgrimage… the people of the Holy Land.

By Mark McGeary (Diocese of Des Moines).

Photos by Declan McNicholas (Diocese of Gary) and Peter Pedrasa (Diocese of Tucson).

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