My trip to the Holy Land came as an unexpected but welcome blessing. Fortunately, we Filipinos don’t need a visa to enter Israel. Most importantly, I entrusted my trip and mission to God. One goal I had at the top of my mind was to help the pilgrims coming from the Philippines, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and India have a fruitful and delightful experience.
The whole experience in the Holy Land and at the Saxum is uniquely memorable for many good reasons. This unfolds in the Holy Land: a place on earth blessed by Jesus’ life and a destination in the “wish list” of all Christians and many non-Christians. The experience deepens one’s meaningful conversation with Jesus Christ, making St. Josemaria’s words “being one more character in the Gospel” palpable and real. Toti and Manny, among others, may have found some of the steep pathways of the daily pilgrimage challenging but it helped them vividly imagine the days of Jesus in Jerusalem and converse with him as a ubiquitous friend. Every other experience people had in various holy sites was convertible into prayer.
The informative and potentially transformative audiovisual presentation of the history of Christianity, the life of Christ, and the story of Holy Land in Saxum Visitor Center affords every individual a blessed opportunity to nurture one’s conversation with Jesus and forge a more personal relationship with Christ. This potentially leads to a more faithful friendship with Jesus Christ.
The experience at Saxum and the Holy Land urges one not to remain as a passive or excited tourist but level up to a faithful pilgrim in search of Jesus Christ. San Josemaría wrote in The Way (#584): Stir up that fire of faith. Christ is not a figure that has passed. He is not a memory that is lost in history.He lives! ‘Jesus Christus heri et hodie, ipse et in saecula’, says Saint Paul. — ‘Jesus Christ is the same to-day as he was yesterday and as he will be forever’.
Living where Jesus lived allows one a more personal accompaniment of Jesus that would hopefully translate into a life-altering experience. Abe shares his experience: “To be in Saxum (I can describe it as a ‘Small Emmaus’, going up the hill) It is truly a lifetime experience and the most memorable one for me!” Glenn, Ed, and Nilo felt the experience was something deeply spiritual, allowing presence of God as natural as the beating of one’s heart.
We left the Holy Land on April 18 with hearts brimming with gratitude to God and our Father. We earnestly hope that our gratefulness and spiritually uplifting experience in the Holy Land would be translated into being a blessing to others in daily life. And, perhaps, another trip the Holy Land and Saxum would be good to keep in our lifetime bucket list.
By Zenon Arthur S. Udani.