Monday, May 19, 2014

Transfiguration by Marc Hopps

Today was another busy day in the pilgrimage.  We got up this morning at 6:30 and departed the retreat center where we were staying.  It was a sad to say goodbye to the volunteers who had so graciously dedicated their time to serving us over the past 10 days.  We left Kiriat Yearim and went to the city of Jericho.

You may remember the Old Testament story about Israel's army marching around the walls of Jericho for one week.  At the end of the week the walls fell, and Israel captured the town.  We read that story, and explored the archaeological excavations.  Jericho was also visited by Jesus went he went from Galilee into Jerusalem.  His path would follow the river Jordan, which would bring him to Jericho.  Around the city, Jesus healed two blind men (Matthew 20:29-34).  Also, Jericho is mentioned in the story of Elijah and Elisha in the Old Testament. Elijah was taken up into heaven, and Elisha received Elijah's mantle around Jericho.

Our next stop was Bet She'an.  This was an ancient Roman city.  Excavations have revealed the city's ampitheatre and bath house.  I am continually amazed by the ingenuity of ancient people.  Going to these archaeological sites provide us with an opportunity to look back into history.  We have seen things 9,000 years old in some of these excavations!!!
From there we continued north into Galilee and stopped briefly at the city of Nain, where Jesus brought the widow's son back to life.  Also, Elisha appears in the Old Testament in a city right on the opposite side of the mountain.  The Old and New Testaments are both coming alive each day here!

From there we drove the bus up to Mt. Tabor, which is the traditional site of the Transfiguration.  We will stay the night here as well.  There is a magnificent church on the top of the mountain.  The mountain is over 400 meters above sea level, and you get a fantastic view.  We had mass shortly after our arrival in the main church.  It was a moving experience for me to receive Jesus in the Eucharist at the site of the Transfiguration.  He allowed three of the Apostles to get a glimpse into his divine nature.  Jesus does not want to remain at a distance, but he wants to transfigure us as well.  He wants our nature to become more and more like his which will make us fulfilled and satisfied.  What an amazing way this gets accomplished through the Eucharist.  I also felt the love the Father who says to me as he did to Jesus in Mark's gospel: "This is my beloved son." (Mark 9:2-8).  He also says this to you as well.

We are praying for you daily on our pilgrimage.  I speak for us all here when I say thank you.  This experience is transforming our prayer even now.  Thank you so much and may God bless you.

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