We leave the peace and tranquillity of the Galilee to begin our journey towards Jerusalem. Our spirits had already been stirred over the last 3 days; there is a spiritual call to move on, to continue searching to quiet our hearts. It does feel like we are being prepared to confront our own Jerusalem but now with rays of hope; even the sun spoke through the clouds.
We returned first to the start point of our faith life. By the banks of the River Jordan, we reminded ourselves of our baptism when Jesus marked us with the sign of the cross to claim us as his own. We in turn desired to lay claim to our full Catholic identity and avail ourselves to the love of God.
The landscape has altered. We find ourselves travelling through the desert. For all of us, this is not familiar terrain. But deep in the valley of our spiritual selves we know this terrain too well; when we are spiritually dry, where there is pain and hurt from issues yet to be reconciled or when we are simply lost in this world.
This is the landscape, the terrain, the hot desert, the wilderness, the nothingness where Jesus wandered. We wonder how.
In the middle of this desert stands the old city of Jericho. In the middle of this old city stands the Church of the Good Shepherd. Long time ago, in the middle of this harsh desert a shepherd left his 99 sheep to go in search of the one he lost.
This is how we felt today. We hear the call of the Shepherd. We wished to be the lamb he cuddles but felt more like the sheep jealously tugging at him for attention. We want to follow but there is so much in life in the way. We are lost sheep needing the shepherd.
Yet this is a desert we must cross. They tell us that the best dates are from Jericho. Unforgiving desert conditions but yielding the best. Life can sometimes be a desert for us due to the harshness of our personal life. But it is a desert we must cross. We know from today that we will come out better for it.
Indeed, once Zacchaeus climbed the sycamore tree and saw Jesus, he was keen to reconcile, and keen to channel all his resources to know Him better. Like Zacchaeus, we have gotten a glimpse of Jesus and are now busy preparing to welcome him into our home. We are dead until he comes into us.
We travelled from the waters of the Jordan that gave us life. We entered a desert and ended up in waters where nothing can live – the Dead Sea. Here we wait for hope to be born. We enter Bethlehem tomorrow.