We went for Christmas mass in the Manger grotto where Jesus was born! We rejoice! As in many occasions on this pilgrimage we found ourselves truly blessed! God has been generous with his gifts for us and seem to go out of his way to give us the experience. We are first at the Grotto. It is not yet opened to the public. We have the once in a lifetime opportunity to take our time and venerate the star that mark the place where our Saviour was born. He shares with us the humble moment of his birth in the humble surroundings of the cave and manger. We seek the humility to open our hearts to let Him in.
Today is our day off; a rest day before we continue ‘our walk to Emmaus’, to come home and allow this pilgrimage to change our lives.
We go to Bethany to catch up on the schedule of holy sites. We visit the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. We easily identify with Martha as we are city dwellers always not having enough time to dwell in the Lord.
In the compound we find a mustard plant and hold mustard seeds in our palms. They are the tiniest seeds we have seen. Is that all God ask of our faith for mountains to be moved? Indeed, to believe and to give ourselves to him is to rise from our personal tombs of darkness just as Lazarus rose from the dead and emerged from his tomb.
We visit the Franciscan Church of St Saviour before we let ourselves free to enjoy the sights and shops of Jerusalem, City of God.
We thank God for the many graces we received on this pilgrimage. We found graces in the passion of Jesus identifying with the cross he carried to the challenges of our life. Our crosses do seem quite small. We regained the meaning of coming for mass, the splendour and beauty of its meaning, and the intimacy we felt with the Eucharist in the small chapels and grottos we celebrated mass in.
We found love, mercy and forgiveness waiting for us in this Holy Land. We found humility to be poor in spirit, to be more and more dependent on Him. We find some strength to surrender more to his will. We found answers, though not yet complete, to what we are seeking spiritually but confident that it will all be revealed to us, like the little ‘yes’ in Mary that eventually made all these possible. We found our answer in the generosity of his love; to use this love to love others. We find Jesus present in each other from the time more than a year ago when we made preparations to the nightly personal sharing of the steps we have taken to follow in his steps.
We are indeed grateful for this opportunity on this pilgrimage to renew ourselves and be at peace. In following his steps, He walks with us.