Holy Land Recollection: Eternity
As one of the faithful put it, "Lent is feeding the good in us and starving the bad, creating a transformation". We all want to be better individuals and this season that comes only once in a year is one of the best times to be serious about it.
We want to talk about things that can help us during this season to make a change, and to make a change for a great eternity ahead. We'll have some free resources you can use and a Holy Land photo reflection guide at the end.
Maybe you're one of those people who plan to really focus on these "religious matters" once you hit 50, or 60 and above (when the time to face God approaches more quickly, just kidding). Well, think again, we never know when our last day on planet earth will be. Each choice we make in the here and now has an eternal consequence.
Ok let's start now in building our friendship with God. Where to start? Never fear we're here to share with you what helps us make better choices every day. Choices that bring more light instead of darkness into our lives.
Here's what we like using at Papemelroti, the Word Among Us. You can subscribe to get the reflections mailed to your doorstep or you can read the day's meditations online here. We also recommend Joel Osteen's Today's Word. If you subscribe, these can be sent to your inbox everyday.
There are a lot of other free resources online to help you grow deeper in faith.
You can download free e-Books on the lives of saints at Catholic e-Book Project. We particularly like the story of Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque click here
One of the best loved devotionals is the centuries is Thomas Kempis' "Imitation of Christ" and it's downloadable here among other works.
More saintly e-Books here
Holy Land photo reflection guide
Journey with us in faith as we walk where Jesus walked. You can do this meditation on Holy Week or at any time you wish to dedicate to God.
Read the caption prayerfully then click on the photos to reflect. You may either right-click on the image to open the picture on another page or just press the X (upper right hand corner) on the picture box to return to this page.
Read Exodus 15:22-27
As we travel to the Holy Land, we start from Marah, the place where the Israelites camped out after crossing the Red Sea. Just three days from that miraculous escape from Pharoah's army, they are parched because Marah's water is bitter. Moses cried out to God because of the people's grumbling and in response, God makes the water sweet.
Reflection: As Christians, we, like the Israelites have crossed over the sea in our baptism. Despite God's gift of salvation, we still have moments of grumbling. Amidst our daily responsibilities, making a living and caring for others, we can forget the miracles we've experienced in the past. Think about something you are very grateful for during this season of Lent.
Read Matthew 3:13-17
From Egypt, we set a path for the River Jordan where Jesus was baptized by John. The river is a frequent symbol for freedom because of the Exodus. The waters are murky and uninviting. We wonder why Jesus, who was the Son of God and sinless, needed the baptism of repentance. John wondered too, asking "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
Jesus said it was "to fulfill all righteousness". As our Passover Lamb, Jesus Himself took upon Himself all our sin. Jesus' sacrifice took our sins, as dark and as murky as the Jordan waters (or even darker) and made these whiter than snow.
Reflection: What things in my life do I want to be free of? What things bind me and stop me from taking on my true purpose in life?
Mountain of Temptation
Read Matthew 4:1-11
About 5 kilometers northwest from the old city of Jericho, we visit the place where Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit, spending 40 days and nights fasting from food and drink. The lonely, dry, rocky terrain doesn't hold much appeal but it is God's Spirit Himself that brings Jesus here.
Reflection: We all know that trials and temptations have the capacity to make us stronger individuals but it's all easier said than done. We can easily succumb and go for the easy way out. Pick out the most difficult challenge you have now. What growth do you see in yourself as you go through this?
Mountain of Temptation
Read Luke 4:31-41, Matthew 11:23
More than a hundred kilometers away, we reach a small fishing village called Capernaum. This is where Jesus lived and taught. Here, He healed many people like the paralytic, centurion's servant and Simon's mother-in-law. Despite this, people were unresponsive to Jesus' teaching.
Reflection: Our lives are filled with much undeserved grace. God has provided for us, healed us, loved us and touched our lives in countless ways. Spend a few moments in solitary silence without the TV, radio and other gadgets. What fears prevent us from listening to Him and giving our all?
Capernaum Synagogue (where Jesus taught)
Sea of Galilee
Read John 6:16-24
Let's just take a few steps to the shore and get on the boat of faith to see up close the breathtaking beauty of the Sea of Galilee (aka Lake Tiberias). It's not hard to imagine the sun setting whilst a strong wind blowing ruffles the waters. Then you see a lone figure steadily walk towards you on the water. Jesus says "It is I, don't be afraid!"
Reflection: Truly nothing is impossible with God. He can turn panic into peace in an instant. If we fix our gaze on Him, we can even walk on water. What is the most impossible thing that you believe Jesus wants to do for you?
Sea of Galilee
Read John 11:1-44, Mark 14:1-11
Less than two and a half kilometers from Jerusalem, we discover the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. We are welcomed by the memory of Jesus' visits with these good friends of His. This was where, through the story of Martha and Mary, we learned how precious our Lord finds our love and undivided attention. It was also in this place where Jesus was anointed with fine expensive perfume from an alabaster jar, costing more than a year's wages.
Reflection: Calculate what you earn in a year. Add about 10%. Would you be willing to give all of this up and give it to charity if you were sure God wanted you to? It was not something that God asked of Mary but she did it willingly out of her love for the Lord. We may not as of yet be as radical as Mary was but we can always desire to increase our fervor and zeal in our relationship with God.
Read Mark 14:32-52
At the foot of the Mount of Olives is the traditional location of the Garden of Gethsemane. Picture Jesus praying here, surrounded by the olive trees (among the oldest known to science). The hour of His death was nearing and He was in deep anxiety. Interestingly enough, Gethsemane means "oil press" and when millstones crush olives, the red liquid reminds us of Jesus' perspiring blood.
Reflection: The weight of our sins crushed Jesus' sacred heart. He was so in love with us that He bore our suffering, sorrows and pains in this earthly life so much so that we can spend eternity with Him. Despite our rebellious ways, He would go through all the agony all over again even if there was only one of us.
Read John 18:19-24
Walking down the slope of Mt. Zion, we enter the high priest's Caiaphas' house. The dungeon below the house is believed to be where Jesus was detained after His arrest.
During Bible times, a prisoner would oftentimes be tied with a rope across his upper body and lowered down into a pitch black cistern (now called the Sacred Pit). With toes barely touching the ground, the prisoner would feel excruciating pain throughout the night.
Reflection: Dear Jesus, You who could vanish through the crowds, or summon an army of angels let Yourself be bound for us. You endured a night of darkness to bring us light in whatever we are going through. You were left totally alone without a soul to comfort you. Recall the people God has called into your life. God has constantly surrounded you with family, friends and even strangers to help you along the path of life. Most of all, He has never left you.
Crown of ThornsRead John 19:1-6
From Caiaphas' house, we wistfully walk towards Jerusalem's northeastern wall. We set upon the Via Dolorosa way and accompany Christ.
You see a crown of thorns on the ground and you gingerly pick it up. Freshly twisted Rose bush vines are the prickliest. You slowly put it on your head. Without any pressure, it already gives you the feeling of tiny dangerous needles piercing you. A headache may ensue, when thinking of how the Roman guards pressed the crown upon Jesus' head.
Reflection: What thoughts constantly plague your mind? Do we allow painful memories and regrets of the past cloud our future? Say a prayer that Jesus heal all of negative and hurtful thoughts. Through every thorn He has endured for our sake, He has already carried all of these burdens for us so much so that we need not carry these with us anymore.
Crown of Thorns
GolgothaRead Mark 15:21-41
Our journey ends at the "place of the skull" where Jesus passes from death to life. The place is so aptly described because its shape reminds one of a skullcap. It is also the "Smokey Mountain" of Jerusalem, where everyone would dump their garbage. It is mind-blowing that God, the creator of the universe, rich in all things except in having only one Son, allowed His only beloved Son to die on a trash heap.
Reflection: We know that the story does not end here. We are an Easter people so we know that God's journey to the abyss of emptiness, nothingness and total despair was a victory because He defeated it. Instead of us being on that cross, He took our place. Let's ask the Lord to make us more worthy of His priceless, eternal gift to us.
He died for us, let's live for Him.