In the Steps of Christ: My Time in the Holy Land HN Blog
Hard as Nails Ministries
In the Steps of Christ: My Time in the Holy Land

In the Steps of Christ: My Time in the Holy Land

By:  Mission Team April 1, 2021

About a year ago, I had the great privilege of deepening my faith through a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Before I went there, I honestly thought it was going to be a bunch of sand and desert and rocks. That was the first shock. Let me tell you something. Jesus knew what He was doing when He picked that area to live in. Rolling green mounds, trees peppering the hillsides, rocks laid out as if placed there by a landscaping company. I mean the place was gorgeous.


We began our journey on the road to Emmaus. Or at least we think it was. You see, there are many roads that lead to Emmaus. The path we walked was one of the more likely routes the disciples would have taken in heading down from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

As we walked the path, we were able to contemplate the beauty of the Lord’s creation contrasted with the fear of the two disciples as they left Jerusalem, the place where their savior had just been crucified. It can make you think a lot about your own life. When faced with trial, do you walk away from or toward it? When the Lord comes to you during these trials, are you able to recognize Him?

The next day we had the privilege of seeing the Shrine of the Annunciation. The picture to the right is the room in which the Angel appeared before the Blessed Mother and conveyed her fiat to the Father. How would all of our lives look different if we said yes to the same degree that Mary did? We spent a few moments outside of the room admiring the courage and the trust that she must have possessed in that moment.

After we left the Shrine of the Annunciation, we journeyed to Capernaum. We got to see the remains of Peter the apostle's house. Right across from his house was the synagogue that Jesus taught at. What was really cool about this place was that it was still standing on its original foundation.

This was the spot where Jesus made His most controversial statement: I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

Sitting right where Jesus said this about 2,000 years ago got me thinking. When I hear these words what do they mean to me? How much do I believe I am receiving Christ's body? I encourage you to take a minute and really think about it. How do I accept what this man said?

After our time in Capernaum we went to the Mount of the Beatitudes. This was where Jesus gave the famous Sermon on the Mount. The place just resonated peace and gentleness. As we sat there we read through the beatitudes and reflected on them as we walked around. There are so many great promises.

With that we took our bus to Jerusalem where we spent the night. The next day began with a trip to Mount Tabor. If Peter, James, and John had known about this place before Jesus took them up, they would definitely have been expecting a spectacular view. The Lord, full of surprises, gave them something so much more.

I can hardly think of a more beautiful place that Jesus could have chosen to reveal His divinity. The trees, the view, the seclusion.

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” Mt 7:1-2

After this, we took a trip to the Jordan River. This was the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. An interesting fact we learned is that the Jordan river is the lowest point in Israel, while Jerusalem is the highest. This can be seen as being a foreshadowing of Jesus’ rising from the depths of hell to the heights of heaven. If I had to pick an ugliest place in Israel, this was it.

With that we returned to Jerusalem and started exploring this historical gem. The first stop we made was the Holy Sepulchre. This is the Church that was built around the rock of Calvary and the tomb Jesus was laid in.

To be able to touch the rock that Jesus was crucified on and then to be able to place your hand on the rock where He lay is absolutely incredible. The Lord literally died where that altar is in the picture above and His body was placed in the tomb pictured to the right. We spent hours taking it all in, thinking about how much the Lord loves us, and allowing the moment of His death to become a reality in our lives.

We returned to the place where we were staying, and we heard some unfortunate news. You see, while we were in Israel, a global pandemic was spreading. That day, Israel announced it was closing its borders in 72 hours. This meant that our pilgrimage would be cut short as we had to switch flights and get out of there ASAP. But before we left the Lord had one more surprise for us.

As we walked the streets of Jerusalem, we came to the outskirts of the garden of Gethsemane. Wanting to read the bible passage without the noise of the nearby street, we went down an alleyway. As we were sitting there a man opened a door, saw us, and waved us in.

We walked down into a large tunnel and found ourselves in the tomb of Mary. This tomb was built on a Greek Orthodox tradition that Mary died, was carried to her tomb, and then assumed into heaven. Regardless of what actually happened before her Assumption, this was the most powerful experience I had during my time in Israel.

I wish to end by sharing this. Returning to the United States I had some time to reflect on my pilgrimage. I was not sure why the Tomb of Mary stuck out to me so much, and I began meditating on my time there. As I prayed, the Blessed Mother gave me this prayer that I have been praying every day. I did not hear her voice, but the words I wrote down were definitely not my own. I had never written a prayer before in my life:

“Descend with me Mother, into the depths of your tomb, and graciously lay me to rest, that you may raise me up in the presence of your Son, and form me into the man He made.”

Photo Credit:
All uncredited photos are the work of Fr. Stephen Lowry C.O. of the Pittsburgh Oratory of Saint Philip Neri.

About the Author Mission TeamThe mission team is made up of writers within the HN team who serve for a time with our ministry to Awaken the World to the Power of God's Love. Through their efforts, their vision of making a world where no one suffers alone is an encouragement to many hurting people of all ages. 


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