I’m sitting by the Mediterranean seaside here in Caesarea Maritime which was built by Herod the Great from 22 B.C. to 10 B.C. just before Jesus was born in 4 B.C. I just finished ten days in Rome and eight days in the Holy Land with the latter led by Dr. Tim Gray of The Augustine Institute, one of the best biblical teachers in our nation.
I wonder why many seminarians and sisters and even the ordained and professed as well as bishops have not come to the Holy Land? Many have been to Rome, but some not even there.
St. Jerome more than 1700 years ago called the Holy Land the Fifth Gospel. The reason of this is because it reveals the vision for the four Gospels, especially when you have an instructor as insightful as Dr. Tim Gray.
I was here 22 years ago and I just committed to return every five years to re-dedicate my lay vocation to the living of the Gospels. As a member of the Clergy Hospitality Group, I hope you would encourage your lay faithful as well as yourselves to consider a trip to Rome and the Holy Land because both are so important to understanding and proclaiming our Catholic faith. Obviously, both are important, but probably even more influential in understanding the teachings of Jesus is a visitation to the Holy Land.
After your trip, you cannot read scripture again or present a homily without remembering the great experience of such a trip.
Many are saying the Holy Land is not safe. I can assure you the trip is safer than it was in 1994. The Israelis know that security is a priority so it is probably the safest place in the world even in the wake of ISIS. Many people will dissuade you from visiting because of the security, but this has been made up by the American Press because there is violence in the Middle East but not in Israel.