If you’re on the fence about a visit to the Holy Land, or if you’ve gone sometime in the past, here’s some of the great benefits of a pilgrimage to the land of the Bible.
When I went recently, our spiritual guide and priest, Fr. Benedict, said that we take a pilgrimage to grow in our faith; however, he added in his homily, it is also designed to assist others in the growth of their faith. In this way, we both receive Christ in a unique way but also prepare to give him away. It cannot be argued that such a venture will either be a life-changing and/or a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It will challenge you and it will reward you. But such a visit is nothing less than a sacred journey, because it brings the Bible to life, helping us to avoid the pitfall of thinking of Jesus as an idea or abstraction. Our salvation unfolded in a place and time, and seeing that place in our time has a huge impact.
In the same way, we are able to help those who may never be able to take such a trip and encounter God in this way. We have been called to serve others, in the same way Jesus served us. Our experience in the Holy Land brings about a way to articulate scripture in such an enlightening manner, bringing each person closer to Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the disciples and even those who may question our faith. We find we have more in common with those who differ from us in many ways. Going through the events in Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem brings to life the character of each place you might visit. From the gentle nudges of Mary when she requests Jesus’ attention to helping those in need (John 2:4-5), we learn that we are all called to use our gifts to serve others. We learn justice through Joseph’s acceptance of the good news Mary proclaimed because he knew of Mary’s purity (Isaiah 7:14). We learn humility in Peter’s reaction to Jesus’ question of Peter (John 21:15). Temperance comes to us when we wonder how Thomas can doubt the Lord (John 20:24-29) and we gain courage through our declaration in our belief in Jesus always being by our side (Joshua 1:9). It is through this humility that we are able to express the greatness we were created for and to assist others to achieve their own greatness. We show others that through our challenges we can learn perseverance (Romans 5:1-5).
While someone may decide on taking such a pilgrimage based on curiosity, that can quickly vanish and they realize the prophecy of Micah 4:2. Not only does the pilgrimage help with the personal character of the pilgrim; it also assists in their professional side. They become a more productive worker, a better colleague and one who develops better relations with all those in which they come into contact – stakeholders in the organization.
Not that it is a requirement; however, as a way to reach the eternal life, a pilgrimage can only benefit those who journey and the others to whom they engage.