Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Holy Land

Today is Easter Sunday, which reminds me of my trip to the Holy Land in October. The memories of that trip have forever changed Easter for me.

Thursday I was reminded of our group's vigil in Gethsemane. I was sure I could stay awake as we remembered and honored Jesus's hour in the garden. Only one hour, 60 minutes, to show Christ Jesus that I could be vigilant where his apostles had failed. But... I fell asleep. Twice. The ego is strong, but the flesh is weak.

In Jerusalem our group made pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulcher. My spirit broke as I dipped my hand in the space where it is believed the cross of Jesus was erected. I could not control myself--tears streaked my cheeks and sobs racked my body. To think God chose, actually made the choice, to be born a helpless baby to a Hebrew mother, and then to grow into manhood to be scourged and crucified without mercy is mind-blowing and heart-breaking.

Because I was part of a Franciscan pilgrimage, my group was able to celebrate Mass and receive Holy Communion inside the burial tomb where it is believed that Jesus laid for three days. To receive Communion in the tomb, from whence Jesus rose from the dead so that we could be born again, is a definitive life-changing moment. I shall never forget the grace I felt that morning, and continue to feel every time I receive Communion.

Jerusalem today is filled with Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and they are fighting over God just as piously, righteously, and unrelentingly as always. All three of these world religions teach tolerance and love, but we are willful children who are more interested in being the rightful heirs to the kingdom than in being tolerant and loving. So we continue to marginalize and persecute each other.

God must be so weary.