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Canisius President John J. Hurley and his wife, Maureen, continue their pilgrimage through the Holy Land. On day four, the group visited the site on the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.  Later, they continued onto Bethany, a town now controlled under Palestine, where they visited the tomb of Lazarus, which proved to be a powerful moment for the group.

The Tomb of Lazarus

The week-long pilgrimage to the Holy Land is sponsored by America Media, a Jesuit ministry that includes America magazine.  It is being led by Revs. James Martin, S.J., author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage; Matt Malone, S.J., editor-in-chief of America; and Brendan Lally, S.J., rector of the Jesuit community at St. Joseph’s University.

Throughout the week, “The Dome” will continue to share President Hurley’s reflections and photos from his journey (see below).

Also, click here to follow a virtual pilgrimage to the Holy Land through video links, which also will be posted daily.

Day Four – Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reflections from President Hurley

We departed from the Mount of Beatitudes this morning and drove to the “other side” of the Sea of Galilee and down through the West Bank to Jericho, Bethany and finally, Jerusalem.

Pilgrims preparing to enter the Jordan River

On our bus ride, we received some orientation to the modern day political reality of Israel.  We drove through checkpoints, saw armed guards, barriers and fences, and got a much better sense of the division in the country.

President Hurley in the Jordan River

We visited the site on the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.  I stood in the murky Jordan River (not opting for the full immersion sought by many other pilgrims; after all, we Catholics have already been baptized!) as Fr. Brendan Lally led us in a renewal of our baptismal vows.  As with so many other parts of this pilgrimage, those vows took on new meaning at this holy site.

We continued on to Bethany, which now is a Palestinian-controlled town, to see the tomb of Lazarus.  I have been praying over St. John’s account of Jesus’s greatest miracle, the raising of Lazarus, for many years.  At funerals, I find Jesus’s announcement that he is the resurrection and the life and those that live and believe in him will never die to be a source of great consolation.  Never in my life did I imagine that I would be standing in Lazarus’s tomb.  Fr. Jim Martin’s great reflection for us this morning asked us to think about what in our lives we might want to leave behind in that tomb.  It was a powerful moment for everyone in our party.

Lazarus Mosaic

We arrived tonight in Jerusalem, leaving Christ’s ministry in Galilee behind, and preparing to trace the final steps of his life in this holy city.

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