Thursday, 19 February 2009

Day 5 - The Road to Galilee

The day started with mass at the Church of St. Anne, the birthplace of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After visiting the pool of Betesda we left Jerusalem to Bethany where we visited the tomb of Lazarus. There we stopped at the Lazarus Home for Girls. After a nice outdoor lunch in Jericho, we climbed to the Monastery of Temptation and visited the dead sea and the Qumran Caves. We then continued north to Tiberias.

Today's homily:

God is seen in the face of Jesus. As we visit the places hallowed by Jesus and reflect on the events that took place there we recapture our collective memory as members of the family of God, the living body of Christ.
This renewal of memory tells us whence we came, what we are about, who we are – this memory gives us identity. The intensive experience that we are sharing this week gives us the opportunity to find our bearings; to see where we are in the journey of life. We leave Jerusalem filled with the memories of the memory of Christ. As we approach Galilee we start seeking our identity. Identifying is how this memory shapes us. This holy memory derives from events and stories and so does our identity. Today we look at the story of Mary in this place where she was born.
Before all else what is absolutely clear in Mary is her Jewishness. Mary is well grounded in the history of her people. We know that from the age of three till twelve she attended the Temple school, just down the road. She knew her traditions and her Bible well. In her life she observed all the traditions of pilgrimage and of doing the right things after the birth of Jesus. Why she ended up in Nazareth we shall never know but it must have been as a result of some difficulties in her family. From a house like this you do not leave to Nazareth if not because of something grave. So, Mary experiences difficulties from an early age and it is around that time, when the world around her collapsed and the future was so bleak that the Archangel Gabriel paid a visit. Did she not have enough on her plate already? But Mary reflects God and so His patience. She enters into dialogue and although his call was unorthodox and life risking she obeyed...and she was still obeying at the foot of the cross and in the Upper Room.
Her glorification and her greatness as model of the Church is because she has done great things in simple ways. Can you see some characteristics of our identity? Simplicity, openness, patience, obedience, faith and being earthed.
St Paul reflected on this when he exclaimed that it is when he is weak that he is strong! We need to celebrate our context and history; it is through it that God shapes us. We need to reconcile our life and direct it towards God’s will, and this takes courage, simplicity, patience, prayer, obedience, faith and love.
Let us rest at the feet of Mary our teacher and seek the basis of our true identity.

Holy Land Day 5

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