By John Paul Lichon
Founder, Verso Ministries

This is a reflection from Day 4 of the Holy Land Pilgrimage with Nativity Catholic Church from Indianapolis, Indiana.

Today was a rich day. Although the bus didn’t travel many miles, we took a deep dive into the life of Jesus. Right along the shores of the Sea of Galilee rest several sites of significance – the Mount of Beatitudes, the Church of the Multiplication, the Church of the Primacy of Peter, Capernaum, and the Orthodox Church of the Twelve Apostles. And that was all before lunch!

Our morning started at the Mount of Beatitudes. As the name suggests, the Church of the Beatitudes marks the area near which Jesus proclaimed the Sermon on the Mount (which contains the Beatitudes). Our guide, Ghada, offered a beautiful reflection not only on the history of this particular church, but more importantly on the virtues and living a life of beatitude.

Praying at the Church of the Beatitudes.

As I was patiently waiting to enter the church, several members of a different tour group started jostling their way forward. I quickly turn and notice that they are being chased by their tour guide, who is motioning at them to leave. “No time, no time,” he keeps repeating as he grabs them by the shoulder. “We must get going to the next site.” They quickly spin around and exit.

To be honest, it’s hard not to get caught up in that pace. There is so much to see in the Holy Land, and there’s only limited time. As I mentioned above, before lunch we visit four more sites in about three hours. We visit the Church of the Multiplication, which commemorates the multiplication of the loaves and fish. Then we visit the Church of the Primacy of Peter, which remembers the story in which Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” From there, we head on to Capernaum, where we find the remains of the town where Jesus did much of his preaching, ministry, and healing. And finally, we weren’t even planning on this, but we had some extra time before lunch, so we also squeezed in a visit to the Orthodox Church of the Twelve Apostles. After lunch, we also celebrated Mass on a boat on the Sea of Galilee. After all, YOVHLO (“You only visit the Holy Land once”), right?

Case in point, when else can you dip your feet into the Sea of Galilee?

As a pilgrimage guide, it’s hard to balance seeing everything you want the group to see while also giving them enough time and space to truly experience the places they are seeing. I’ve tried to be very mindful of giving enough room for our pilgrims to breathe, but there are certainly times in which we need to hustle on to the next site. But when push comes to shove, I’d personally rather see less sites but experience the full richness of each site.

Thinking about this balance made me think about the many responsibilities, commitments, and schedules we are all asked to juggle in our daily lives. There are times I want to say (and often do) say, “No time, no time! We must get going.” Between work, family, church, friends, and everything in between, it’s easy to get caught up rushing from one place to the next. It’s easy to fall into a mantra of “No time, no time.”

Personally, I pray that I don’t live by the philosophy: “No time, no time.” I pray that I can be fully present to what’s right in front of me, at every particular place and time. After all, life’s too short to let it pass us by.

Some more highlights from today.

Church of the Multiplication

Orthodox Church of the Twelve Apostles

Deacon John preaching on the Sea of Galilee

Even did a little dancing on the boat...