“Walk Where Jesus Walked!” Recently on February 10-21st I traveled with 20 members of our parishes and surrounding area of St. Cloud on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, being the spiritual director myself. It was an honor and a pleasure to travel with these people as we embarked on this trip, this journey of a lifetime. Together, we walked where Jesus walked in the land of the Bible! Our travels took us to Nazareth where Jesus was born and grew up with Mary and Joseph. We then climbed Mt. Tabor where Jesus was transfigured before his disciples. We stayed on the shores of the Sea of Galilee where we visited Capernaum and Bethsaida, the cities where Jesus healed a blind man, preached, and expelled demons. We went on a boat out onto the sea where Jesus calmed the storm. We stood on the shores where he multiplied the loaves and fishes. We went up onto the hills of Galilee where Jesus gave us the Beatitudes. We traveled to Caesarea Philippi, then Caesarea by the Mediterranean Sea and then to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. We visited the Shepherd’s Field where the angels announced the good news of a Savior’s birth and gave us the Gloria. We then traveled to Jericho, the home town of Zecchaeus the tax collector. We renewed out Baptismal promises and were blessed with the waters of the Jordan River. We saw the Judean Desert where Jesus fasted for 40 days and was tempted by the devil. We floated on the Dead Sea and climbed Masada and learned about Jewish history and revolt. We then traveled to Jerusalem, the Holy City and saw where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper. We walked and prayed the Stations of the Cross on streets where these things happened! We entered the Church of the Holy Sepulture which encloses Mt. Calvary and the burial place of Christ, where He was raised from the dead. We went the Bethany the hometown of Mary, Martha and went into the tomb of Lazarus who was raised from the dead by our Lord as well. We saw and visited many places with so many meaningful events! At many of these places we prayed, we sang, and we celebrated Mass daily. It was a wonderful experience for them! If you want to hear from their experience just ask them: Colleen Schwartzbaur, Mary Lou Riechert, Nancy Graham, Steve and Peg Laraway, George and Mary Ann Rindelaub, George and Jean Meinz, Jo Ann Perish, Mike and Rachel Libby, Dan and Elaine Cotton, Rose Blessner, Bernadette Kroska, Scott and Renae Roeder, Bridget Bierman.
A religious pilgrimage is not a vacation rather, it’s an “encounter” with the risen Lord! Some people even call it the “5th Gospel” after the words written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. My prayer was that each pilgrim with us would be deeply touched and experience the risen Lord in some way for themselves, and I believe they did! For me (having spent 4 ½ months studying in Israel 35 years ago) visiting these holy sites was like seeing old friends.
As we enter into the First Weekend of Lent, as an ACC Church here in St. Cloud, we all have an opportunity to “Walk Where Jesus Walked” as we journey “in the Spirit” through this holy season. We may not be able to.