I kneel before a slab of rock, worn by the touch of countless pilgrims. It is silent – a rare commodity in a bustling site guarded by impatient monks and constant voices. With the Scriptures laid before me, I slowly read a section toward the end of John’s Gospel. One line stands out. One line brings together all that I have experienced in the past two weeks: “He saw and believed.” In that moment, sitting in the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, I was the one seeing and, by His grace, believing more fully. He has risen. And the world must know.
This summer I had the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land with a group of seminarians, mostly from the East Coast, and a few students from the North American College in Rome. The trip, sponsored by the Eastern Lieutenancy of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre, included a two-week pilgrimage to all of the major sights in the Holy Land – from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem and everywhere in between – as well as a 3-day pit stop in Rome before returning to the U.S.
I don’t think I’ve fully digested the impact this trip has had on me personally – on my spiritual life now, and, God willing, on my future priesthood. The reality of the Incarnation is inescapably present at the holy sights of our Lord’s life. Walking around the Sea of Galilee, where so many Gospel events took place, made those accounts come alive. Placing my hand on the place where tradition says the infant Christ was born will forever impact my celebration of Christmas. Praying in the empty tomb transformed all these experiences and gave them a new sense of reality.
Our faith is not one of theories and wishful thinking. It’s a faith that is rooted in history. Our Lord became man – at a certain point in time, in a certain part of the world. He had a family. He had a home. He healed people. He lived. He was crucified. And most importantly, He rose.
The events that took place in this small section of the world changed our human existence irrevocably. Through His Resurrection, Jesus conquered sin and death and opened to us the path to a life with meaning – a life lived fully. He showed us what it means to be truly human.
In a world that has grown indifferent to the message of Christianity, yet still seeks happiness and fulfillment, we must be the bearers of the joy of the Resurrection. We must be filled with a zeal for evangelization. We must bring the Person of Jesus Christ to others. My pilgrimage this summer rekindled and deepened my desire to make disciples of all nations, and for this I’m forever grateful.
The world must know.