From January 17 until January 27, U.S. Catholic and Catholic Theological Union are cosponsoring a Holy Land pilgrimage that is led by CTU’s eminent scripture scholar and Jerusalem expert, Franciscan Father Leslie Hoppe. U.S. Catholic’s popular scripture columnist Alice Camille is also accompanying the group and leading prayers, reflections, and discussions. She is filing blog posts from the trip. Here is her first on the day of the group’s arrival in Jerusalem:
Belonging is a funny thing. Either you feel it, or you don’t. Most of us feel an implicit sense of belonging that comes with citizenship in a particular place, while every other place is just a little more foreign by comparison. Yet here on my third pilgrimage to Israel, I’m hearing folks say what so many have said before: This land is a place that somehow feels like home. Not the state of Israel, exactly, but this land of all our biblical hopes and dreams. We’ve all been here before, spiritually. For believers of at least three major world religions, Jerusalem is no foreign city.
Father Leslie Hoppe, O.F.M., our scholar and guide, has been telling us that of the three major religions of this land, Christianity is alone in not mandating pilgrimage for its adherents. And yet we come anyway, if we can afford it and even if we really can’t. Because this holy land is the territory of our longing, the interior storyland where we first encountered God. Like a sacrament which conceals and reveals the sacred at the same time, we come here to “touch” God, to walk across the pages of our Bible, and to finally know what it means to be part of this story.
I promised the group, after 10 hours on an airplane from Philadelphia and little sleep, no pictures of the 13 of us would appear here until we get a chance to shower, snooze, and feel more presentable. Besides, this story isn’t really about us. It’s about what happened here 2,000 years ago and how that changed everything.
To read more of Alice’s blog posts from the Holy Land, click here.
Image: Photo by Alice Camille