Thought for Monday, 1st Week of Lent (March 6, 2017)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
Saturday, the last day in the Holy Land, began with a 10am Mass in the Cenacle, a Franciscan chapel near the Upper Room, where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with the disciples. I preached about the institution of the Eucharist, the priesthood and the washing of the feet. After the homily, Deacon Tom and Deacon Steve renewed their diaconal vows, and then Fr. Enrique and I renewed our priestly vows. That was a humbling moment for me to renew my priestly vows in the place that Jesus instituted the priesthood and the Eucharist, two things very close to my heart.
We then had a free day to tour Jerusalem, so Fr. Enrique and I took a group of about 30 people to follow Jesus’ steps from Holy Thursday in the Cenacle on the way to Calvary and then finishing essentially at the tomb, where Jesus was raised from the dead. Because the Church of St. Peter Gallincantu (which means ‘the cock crows’) is right across the street from the Upper Room, we started our journey there. It was a little out of order, but would have required an extra hour of walking, which we did not need at this time. We read about Peter’s denial in Scripture and were near the pit in which Jesus was kept the night He was arrested.
Then we prayed the rosary as we walked about 30 minutes to the Garden of Gethsemani. We read the story of Jesus praying with the disciples in the garden and their inability to stay awake with Him. Then Judas entered the picture and betrayed Jesus with a kiss. We reflected on how often we betray Jesus through our words and actions like Peter and Judas. The difference between Judas and Peter is that Judas despaired and hung himself while Peter humbly sought God’s mercy and Jesus founded the Church upon him. So, Fr. Enrique and I offered to hear confessions for our group in the Garden, which was a moving experience.
After time in the Garden, we made our way back into the walled city of Jerusalem to find some lunch. Many of us were hungry for pizza. We passed by the Western Wall and through the Jewish Quarter. Since it was still the Sabbath, nothing was open in the Jewish Quarter, but we eventually found a restaurant that sold pizza in the Christian Quarter. The restaurant owner, Anwar, is a Palestinian, and full of joy. We had fun at the pizza place and then headed for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to finish our day where Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead. Unfortunately, the Church was closed for another hour or so. It was getting late and we were tired, so we decided to head back to the hotel. We read the rest of the story of the Passion while we were walking.
We were scheduled to join the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel for Mass at 6:30pm at Notre Dame. As we were walking back to the hotel, we stumbled upon Notre Dame and decided to just go there and visit the Museum of the Shroud of Turin there. That was a fascinating exhibit. I did not know that they found two coins to cover Jesus’s eyes after He died. These coins can be traced back to the time of Pontius Pilate!
We then joined the community for Mass in English. It was nice to concelebrate Mass with the Apostolic Nunico and another bishop. Our group really joined the Mass. We then headed to the hotel for a farewell dinner. Those who wanted to share the highlight or close moment during the pilgrimage were invited to share. It was obvious that many different experiences touched their hearts and mine as well.
We left Tel-Aviv at 6:50am this morning for Munich, Germany and then to Chicago. We arrived safely in Chicago around 2:30pm, tired and happy that God had granted us such a special pilgrimage. I hope that this is not the last time I have the opportunity to walk in Jesus. And if you have a chance to go, do not pass up the opportunity. None of us in the group ever felt uncomfortable or afraid, and that was our biggest concern.
Have a blessed Monday,