Back to Basics

I am writing this essay from the Holy Land while on Pilgrimage with 30 people from our parish and others. We have just arrived, and already I feel different. There is such excitement in the air as we go back in time to the era of Jesus of Nazareth and His humble beginnings as well as His faithful and faith-filled journey to His death and His Resurrection.

Our faith is so historically based as is Judaism. It is based on God’s intervention into our world, not for judgement but for love, pure love.

There is such a contrast with the Israel of today. Jewish men on our flight to Israel got up at sunrise and wrapped in prayer shawls to prayer at the Eastern side of the aircraft. From this ancient ritual, we arrived at the super modern airport, the up-to-date roads, and the throbbing life in this small but influential country. Still filled with drama and, alas, violence, it is a contemporary place with all the pluses and minuses of modernity.

Yet there is an air of mystery about what happened hic (here in Latin). Sure, I have studied the doctrine of the Incarnation: The Divine becoming human. But it happened here. Not there, not everywhere. But in one place and one time to one Person. This divided all human history to be before Him (BC) or after Him (AD). And it happened here and then. But this amazing thing has had far-reaching implications. God becoming human has enabled the whole human race, not only as man made in the image and likeness of God, but also God coming to us in the image and likeness of man.

So today we prayed before the altar erected over the spot where Mary said yes to the Angel Gabriel. We will pray at the spot of His birth and the spot of His dying and at the spot of His rising from the dead.

It’s one Man’s story, but really the story of all of us that have been touched by Jesus and forever changed. All that Jesus did matters to me because I matter to Jesus. All of us who have been redeemed by Him can say the same.

When one matters to someone else, it is because something in that person is important, is needed, is even essential. The one that matters touches the heart and draws forth love. The loss of someone who matters to me is incalculable. One feels broken without that one.

Given this, it is hard to imagine that Christ feels that way about me. Sometimes I wonder if Christ means that much to me. Or am I just kidding myself, just saying this because it sounds good and makes me feel important.

How essential is Christ to me? And how essential am I really to Christ the Redeemer, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? I mean, really!

But that is what I believe is the truth. And I would stake my life on that. Once I move to that conclusion, then I have to see others differently for they too matter to Christ—every last one of them, down to the mentally unfit and the seriously sinful.

Just as I have discovered that I have a very weak concept of God’s omnipotence (how can God be so involved with 6 billion people at the same time?!), so I have a flaccid idea of the all-loving nature of God. I keep putting limits on that love and can’t quite believe that Jesus would give His life for that obnoxious co-worker that I can’t stand or for that drunken homeless person who shows no signs of wanting to get sober!

In brief: God is much more than I give Him credit for, and any attempts to limit or define Him are bound to be way off!

This is the Person I seek here in this land: the Holy One who makes all things holy.

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