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“To See What Jesus Saw” with People in Holy Land - #SLPilgrimage

Rodney Leung

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lent is a time of penance, a period for us to refresh our faith with God. This year, I had an unforgettable time during lent and it took part in the Holy Land.  
From Feb 25th to Mar 6th, I had the opportunity to follow Salt + Light on a pilgrimage, led by Fr. Thomas Rosica, to the Holy Land. On our first day, our local tour guide Usama said, “You are not only in the Holy Land, but you can also see what Jesus saw.” At that moment, I told myself, “Yes! I will treasure every moment of the trip and open my heart to experience what Jesus saw.”
The most beautiful part of this pilgrimage was being able to meet with people like Jesus. From the bible, we all know that Jesus met so many people (including the disciples) from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem. We did the same thing.
I try to think about what Jesus did when he met someone for the first time. He must fulfill what he taught to us, “Be the first one to love!” Therefore, I loved talking to those pilgrims whom I had never met before. This is the first step to experience what Jesus did in this land. Also, this is the mission of the Church, “Go out and spread the good news to one another.” After that, we all build up very good relationships and friendships in those ten days, regardless of the age difference and where we were from no matter where we from. We are all in ONE Family, ONE Church with ONE Lord.
On this journey, Fr. Rosica not only brought us to the touch the land of Jericho, Mount Nebo, the tree on the Mount of Olives, the rock of Peter’s Primacy, the water in the Sea of Galilee and Jordan river, the birth place of Jesus, the Church of Holy Sepulchre, the empty tomb of Jesus, etc., but he also brought us to visit the local people who are living in the Holy Land, so that we too can be touched by the local people who were keen to share their stories and dreams with us.
One example of this was the opportunity to visit Bethlehem Pontifical University in Palestine. I could see a visible sign of Hope from the students in there. During the visit, we had a lunch and met with the students who were either Christians or Muslims. They were very welcoming to us. During our conversation with them, I realized there was a joy that sprung from what they believed in. Although they came from different religious, there was peace there. They are the hope that springs from peace.
I asked them a question, “What is your dream after gradation?” They all answered me from their heart. Some wished to have a job which is related to what they are studying, and also the freedom of Palestine. For those who were born in Palestine, it is not easy for them to go to anywhere, as  they are surrounded by the ‘wall.’ Let us pray for them, pray for the youth, pray for peace, and pray for the freedom of Palestine.
On a different note, one of the most famous pieces of art from the Holy Land is the ICON which we use often in Taize prayer. It is a window for you to communicate with God. We visited a beautiful little church located on “Palm Sunday Road” where the monastery of the Benedictine Sisters is located. Sr. Marie-Paul Farran, O.S.B. is 84 years old and she shared with us her beautiful story of being an icon maker. Sometimes it takes her three to six months to draw an icon after meditation. She also explained the colour and the scriptures associated with different icons. I loved what she shared at the end - an icon is revelation, however, we are an icon, the icon of GOD and we have to act out the love of God.
To see what Jesus saw. The bible unfolded in front of my eyes every day in Holy Land. It felt like every day was Sunday as the bible readings were repeated to me. After this trip, I realize more than before that we also can see what Jesus saw anytime. How? The answer is on my desk. Pick up the bible and read it. It is the best way to learn and to walk with Jesus. I would like to invite all of you to open the bible with me and to begin our blessed journey with Jesus everyday.
Thanks be to God for granting us a safe and blessed journey.
Thank you for your prayer! I am sure that this blessed journey could not happen without your prayer.  
Let’s keep praying for each other. Let us be the salt of the earth, the light of the world together.
“Shalom, chaverim,Shalom, chaverim,
Shalom, shalom;
Shalom, shalom.
Shalom, o my friends,Shalom, o my friends,
Shalom, shalom;Till we meet again,Till we meet again,
Shalom, shalom.”

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