It was a long cherished dream come true in my life. I had always desired and dreamt of going to the Holy Land, and even my mother used to say I hope you all (my religious sisters) will have a chance to visit Holy Land, and I am hoping and praying for it. And when Fr Selva Rathinam our director of MBS in JDV told us that as Biblical students you will get a chance to go to Holy Land I was thrilled and overjoyed. I was waiting for November to come, so we can go to Holy Land. When the time arrived as if to test me I had a fall and my collarbone had a fracture. But my companions were too good to help me all the time and I can say they carried for me the luggage and helped me in all my needs. A special thanks and appreciation to them and may God bless them all abundantly.
The journey was from 7th November to 16th November. We went first to Mount Nebo- Moses’ Burial place- Moses saw the promised Land- 12 springs- the Abu Badd Stone. Then to Cana- and had the Holy Mass there. The next place was Nazereth- Annunciation Church- St Joseph’s workshop- marian devotion of different countires- Greek orthodox church, Mary’s well.
The Mount of Beatitudes, Church of multiplication of five loaves, (closed), Church of Primacy of St Peter, site of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus calmed the sea, walked over the water, prepared breakfast, asking Peter three times, “do you love me”?, Capernaum Synagogue, Peter’s mother in Law’s house, Peter’s House- church over Peter’s house, boating in the sea of Galilee, Peter’s fish for Lunch, Jordan river-baptismal place of Jesus, Mount Tabor-Transfiguration Church, chapel of Moses, chapel of Elijah, via Maris, Jericho- Mt of Temptation, Mount of Olivet, Church of Ascension- Foot prints of Jesus, Pater Nostra church- Jesus taught “Our Father”, grave yard of Jews, Muslims, Christians- far sight of the city of Jerusalem, church of Dominus Flavitus- where Jesus wept looking at Jerusalem- the altar of the church is towards east to west, Mary Maglene Church( only saw from far), Gesthemene- olive tree where Jesus prayed, rock inside the church, where Jesus prayed, Kidron Valley, Gehanna, David’s statue with the harp, Last supper Senacle, David’s Tomb, Mary’s tomb- Dormition Abbey.- place of the coming of the Holy Spirit, Shepherd’s Field- Bethelehem, Milk Grotto- drop of milk spilled while Mary fed infant Jesus, (tradition from the fourth century), Nativity church- place of the birth of Jesus were very heartwarming to see.
We went on to visit still more holy places like, Stephaneus gate- through which Jesus was taken to the house of Antoneus, Caiphas, and for his Trial, Pool of Bethsaida- where Jesus healed the paralytic, church of St Ann- place where Mary was born (tradition), via Dolorosa- Mass in the Church of Flagalation, map of the journey of the cross, holy Sepelchure Church- 10th station on ward in the church, mount Calvary, rock , where Jesus body was washed and laid in the arms of Mary, burial and resurrection place- Holy Sepulcher, chapel of St Helena, where she found the true cross of Jesus, the rock of the Calvary, broke open at the time of the death of Jesus, wailing wall, Ain Karem- the Birth Place of John the Baptist, Bethany- the house of Martha, Mary , and Lazarus- olive press, the Church at Bethany, the Tomb of Lazarus, city of Jericho- the Sychamore tree on which Zacheus climbed, dead sea, Qumran caves, Taba boarder – Egypt, Sinai mount- the mountain top where Moses received 10 commandments, St Catherine Monastery, burning bush, well of Moses, golden calf, Suez canal- to the continent of Africa, Egyptian Museum, holy Family Church- tradition (where holy family stayed when they had ran away to Egypt), great pyramids, shop of perfume, papyrus shop and Nile Cruize.
Reflection: The most reflective places in the Holy Land were for me the Church of Cana, Nativity Church, Mount Nebo, Lazarus Tomb, Holy Sepulcher Church and The Burning Bush. In Cana during the Mass I prayed for all the couples especially of all our people at home and I too joined in thanking the Lord for the beautiful sacrament of marriage and all who renewed their vows on that day. The stone jar reminded me of the abundance of wine Christ provided for the couples, a life of love and joy in abundance.
In the Nativity Church I realized how humble and simple I need to be in order to experience God and see him in my daily life. On Mount Nebo I reflected about Moses though a humble servant of God he was not able to reach the Promised Land. At times in my life to I may have wishes that are genuine yet it may not take place as I wish, I need to surrender fully to God and be happy with what life offers to me. At Bethany Lazarus was buried for 4 days, but faith in the resurrection brought him back to life. Christian death is a sleep, but resurrected life is eternal where I will live with God forever. Though divine, Jesus was crucified like a criminal and buried in a borrowed tomb. This tomb brings life and hope to many, who believes in him will have eternal life. It inspired me to think of the many who have laid down their life for others, the soldiers and the many leaders, who for others gave their life willingly. Am I able to give life to many? The burning bush was a symbol of God’s presence with me and with everyone. God is creatively active in the history and in the life of everyone. Though Moses tried to escape the responsibility God strengthened him in his call. So does God always strengthen me in my call.
I prayed for all of you as we journeyed on. I am very grateful to God and the provincial team for giving me this great gift of grace.
Sr. Rosely, Pune