Continuing with excerpts of Day 2 of my February 2000 Jubilee pilgrimage to the Holy Land
Day 2 – Wednesday, 2/16/00 – Nazareth/Yardinet
I am wide awake at 4 AM. There is a lightning storm and it is raining hard. I pull the curtains back to watch the storm over the Sea of Galilee. I’m thinking of the words to a song my dad likes to sing called, “Walking the Sea.” The verse goes, “out upon the Sea of Galilee one night, angry waves dashed in maddening height as the disciples sailed in fright over the deep. Rowing against contrary wind, knowing not what might be the end, Jesus came He their dearest friend, walking the sea. Walking the stormy sea, walking the rolling sea, Jesus at night came unto them walking the sea.” I open my Bible to read Mat. 8:23-27. I hear Jesus more often reminding me that “Lo’ He is with me always.” Though I feel especially close to Him at church, meditating before the crucifix, or, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel during Adoration; Jesus reminds me that I should not lose sight that He is always with me. He comes to us just as He came to His disciples so many years ago. He walks with us and I feel that presence more every day.
Today Mass was at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. I slipped back down to the grotto of Mary’s house after Mass and prayed a decade of the rosary. Today we also visited the Jordan River. Some like to be re-baptized here. But, my childhood baptism is so etched in my memory [and a Polaroid photo] that I’ve no desire to be dipped in the Jordan. I even surprised myself to realize I feel that strongly about it. We are all baptized in the same water – once for all time.
I’ve been reflecting on the words I wrote in regards to feeling especially close to Jesus in church. I do feel the presence of Jesus in the Catholic Church in a way I never felt it in my Baptist church. In February 2000, it was all still so new to me. It is hard to describe. I was on staff at my Baptist church and had a key. I spent time in the sanctuary alone. After completing my weekly bulletin printing, I would often walk in to the sanctuary and sit. It was a profound emptiness when compared to the feeling I get upon entering a Catholic Church. I can’t stress enough the fact that Jesus is fully present in the Catholic Mass and in the Tabernacle. We are invited to a meal, a banquet, and the Host is there.
There are things I recall which I did not write. We were scheduled for Mass at the Church of the Annunciation. When we arrived, another pilgrim group from New York, led by our same tour company, was preparing to begin Mass in the same chapel. After some quick inquiries about the schedule conflict, it was decided we would join them and our priests con-celebrated. Never in my life could I have imagined myself in Nazareth, at the place venerated for the Angel Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary, with a group of strangers from New York — celebrating Mass. That may have been my first “a-ha” understanding of the Universal Church.
The other thing I recall and did not write — the baptismal site at the Jordan River smelled really bad. I wrinkled my nose and managed to get close enough to fill a few small bottles. That was close enough for me.