not up there but down here

May 23, 2012

It has been a pleasure to arrive back in the parishes of the Hurunui district after the Holy Land pilgrimage days.

Tonight I celebrated Mass for the people of the Scargill / Greta Valley area in the home of parishioners. 

In the moments of silent reflection after communion, as we basked in the reality of Jesus presence with us in the Eucharist, my mind wandered back to last week’s celebration of the Mass…
  • on  the shores of the Sea of Galilee
  • in the garden of Gethsemane
  • at the first Station of Jesus’ Way of the Cross
  • at the Church of Peter’s denial of Jesus
  • in the Basilica of the Annunciation Nazareth
  • in a cave-chapel of the shepherd’s fields, Bethlehem
…to name just a few significant points on our pilgrimage journey.

The holy places I have listed above seem in some ways a world away from the nine little communities of the Hurunui, and the Chatham Islands.

Last Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Ascension. The angel said to the disciples: ‘why do you stand here gazing up into the sky’…

How often we fall into thinking that we need to be somewhere or someone else if we are to really be with God. Perhaps a trip to the Holy Land will bring me closer to Jesus? Maybe when I overcome this sin I will feel the presence of God? 

Such thinking is a serious obstacle to our recognition of God-with-us.  

Our task is to allow God to come to us where we are, not to seek God where we are not.  We are here gazing up into the sky, and the angel tells the disciples that Jesus will meet them not up there, but down here, on earth, in the midst of today’s geography, climate, sufferings, anxieties and moods.

If you ever get a chance to visit Israel, jump at the opportunity. But keep in mind that if you really want to meet Jesus, the place where you walk and talk, weep and toil today, is the holy land where God is waiting for you.

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