A pilgrimage to the holy land tends to change one’s perspective of how the gospels
are heard and understood. For instance, today when we talk about John the Baptist,
I see the river Jordan and think “WOW!”. It was there, at the River Jordan, that
God’s voice proclaimed Jesus’ true nature. It was the beginning of his journey to
As we traveled toward Galilee we passed through Jericho and we saw the sycamore
tree where Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus, (Luke 9:1-10). His faith was
recognized and by his deeds he showed everyone that he was truly a changed man.
It is not a mere change of words that Jesus demands but a change of life, to be
reborn. Do we live by the prayer; “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the
Holy Spirit” or is it “as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be”? Let us ask
ourselves: “Do we have the courage of Zacchaeus in our own lives?”
We visited many sites that are proclaimed in the Gospels and Old Testament. For
example, we traveled to Mount Carmel, where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal.
A statue proclaiming Elijah’s victory in God’s name shows Elijah vanquishing those
who tried to lead the people of Israel to forsake their belief in a single God.
As an aside, as one looks to the west from the top of Mount Carmel, we see an
Israeli air base where regular sightings of war planes taking off or landing as the
complete their missions of war reminds one of the challenges we come across as we
try to live our lives in peace. Grant that we all may experience the power of Jesus as
we face the challenge of taking a stand on issues that face our church and our
The first town to be visited in the Galilee territory was, of course, Nazareth. This is
the place where Christ was raised. It is where Joseph and Jesus worked as
carpenters. As such, they met the needs of the community for items such as ox-
yokes, a precise device, made of wood to fit the neck of the ox so that the ox’s
burden might not cause injury to the animal. Legend says that Jesus made the best
ox yokes in all of Galilee. One can easily see a sign over the carpentry shop saying:
“My yoke fits well”. Jesus preached; “My yoke fits all.”(Matthew 11: 28-30). Jesus is
there to help us with our burden and He is ready to adjust our yoke as necessary, to
lighten our load. He wants us to know that life’s burdens, while they are real, are laid
on us in love and if carried in His love, will be become a lightened load.