Holy Land Pilgrimage

We’ve Arrived! The Land of the HOLY ONE

November 21, 2022


Saturday evening, we left the bitter cold of Chicago. Sixteen hours later and fifty degrees warmer, we arrived in the “Land of the HOLY ONE!” This was the way our first tour guide referred to our new environment. In a place considered sacred to all three of the world’s major monotheistic religions, I wondered Who she meant by “HOLY ONE.” As we got to know her, we discovered that she was part of the 1% Christian minority that live in Israel. 80% of this God-fearing population are Jewish, and 20% are Arab Palestinians – who predominately follow Islam. Our guide was part of the minority of the minority – a Christian Arab.

For her and many other Christians here, faith in Jesus Christ is not something to be taken for granted. Nor does she consider her job as merely a convenient way to pocket cash. She joked with us how she had to study more in preparation for these tours than when she was studying for her undergrad degree in chemical engineering. For our guide, leading pilgrimages is a calling to help folks like us encounter the HOLY ONE: Jesus Christ.

By the way this woman spoke and carried herself, I had a sense that this “Jesus person” is someone very real. Not that I doubted this before, but I state it here to make this point: there is something special about this place, which brings the reality of Jesus Christ to life. It is truly the land of the HOLY ONE. This I could sense in what was merely a short bus ride from the airport terminal to our first place of lodging. If the sacredness of this country can be felt from the busy, modern streets above, I can only imagine what it will be like when we finally visit the ancient sites below…

We arrived at our lodging, joyful, yet exhausted from travel. Before eating a delicious Mediterranean supper, our group celebrated Holy Mass in the chapel of what will serve as our “homebase” for the next few days. It just so happened that the first Mass we celebrated on our pilgrimage to Israel coincided with the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. A perfect name through which to render thanks to Him who has bestowed this great gift of pilgrimage to us. A perfect title for Him who has brought us safely across the world to enter the ancient city of David, a city built for a King!  To Jesus Christ the King, the HOLY ONE of Israel, the HOLY ONE of the Universe, be all glory and honor and praise!

By Colin Patrick

Archdiocese of Atlanta

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