Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

BY Bill Reagan

As you read these words 26 of us are finishing our seventh day of pilgrimage in the Holy Land. Two more to go.

There’s an eight hour time difference, so for us it is late afternoon as you read your morning paper.

This is my second pilgrimage.

We may be standing eight hours forward across the globe, but we’ve traveled back 2,000 years to draw closer to the most important person in history.

Jesus only lived about 33 years, 30 of them in obscurity, but, oh, how those last three years changed the world.

Israel has its fair share of tourist traps. Jerusalem is one of the most tense cities in the world. Three faiths try to coexist on this small mountain, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. These people of faith don’t often get along well with each other, or even within their own groups in the City of Peace.

But it is such a wonderful place.

In America, something has deep roots if it goes back 200 years. So much of the historical and spiritual heritage of the Holy Land goes back more than 3,000 years. None of the sites of Jesus’ life and ministry can be ascertained with absolute certainty, but history and tradition are pretty accurate in this part of the world. So places like the Church of the Nativity, where Jesus was born, or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where He died and was buried, bring you to the very places where the pivotal events of His life occurred.

It’s a transformational experience. I’m impressed by the way pilgrims need to touch these places, ancient stones mostly. Their hands reach out timidly, reverently, sensing their own unworthiness to touch the same places Jesus touched, and filled with joy to be able to do it.

The theme for this pilgrimage is “Seeking the Savior.” I found Him.

Bill Reagan is executive director of Loaves & Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.