My husband I have traveled to the Holy Land over forty-five times, on our own and leading groups of pilgrims. In the early 90’s, we heard the call from Jesus as we walked along the shores of Galilee, to lead people to the Holy Land: the Land of the Bible, the ‘Fifth Gospel’, the land sanctified by Jesus’ life!
It is so incredible to stand at the very sites where Jesus taught and healed! Catholic Churches are now built over the majority of these sites with sacred art describing what took place at each location. As a pilgrim in the Holy Land, walking into these Church buildings is like walking into the Scripture story of that site. The experience can be very enlightening, breath-taking and spiritual.
Light shines through stained glass windows and sets the tone for the Scripture story related to that site. Ahh… but there is something else we need to add to this picture: a burning Sanctuary Lamp candle by the main altar. It is a sign that Jesus is still present in the Eucharist kept in the Tabernacle.
For 2,000 years Catholic Christians have believed in the True Presence – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in the consecrated Host (Eucharist).
As we visit the holy sites like Capernaum, Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, each with their own Catholic churches, we continue to find Jesus in His Eucharistic presence!
In our own towns and cities, we can find a Catholic Church and search for the Sanctuary Lamp burning near the Tabernacle. Bl. Charles de Foucauld was a lay person who, after experiencing an encounter with Christ through prayer, decided to leave his military career to serve Christ in the simple way of living a life of prayer in Nazareth. He said, “Wherever the sacred Host is, there is the living God. There is your Savior as truly as when he lived and spoke in Judea, and Galilee, and as truly as he is now in paradise.”
St. Francis of Assisi said about the Eucharist:
“Looking at Him with the eyes of their flesh, they saw only His Flesh, but regarding Him with the eyes with of the spirit, they believed that He was God. In like manner, as we see bread and wine with our bodily eyes, let us see and believe firmly that it is His Most Holy Body and Blood, True and Living. For in this way our Lord is ever present among those who believe in him, according to what He said, “Behold, I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)
Visit a Catholic church, read a portion from one of the four Gospels as you sit before the Tabernacle, where Jesus is present in the Eucharist. There is your Savior as truly as when he lived and spoke in Judea and Galilee, and as truly as he is now in paradise – looking at you!