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John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him…
These past ten days have just flown by. In many ways I must thank God for the very special grace to travel to the Holy Land, to walk where Jesus walked, to preach in His name and to offer His Body and Blood to others. Like so many moments in my life, I can honestly say that I did not deserve such a blessing, but the blessings keep coming because the Lord keeps coming towards me.
Today we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Our boat was a replica of the type most assuredly used by Jesus. Except for the motor on it, I felt like I was traveling as he traveled. At a certain moment the captain decided to turn off the engine. We drifted for a little while and then stood idle in the middle of the sea. That’s when I first noticed them, these “stars” upon the sea. I am not sure what their technical name is, but these stars must be a reflection of the sun’s rays off the minerals floating in the water. Regardless, I never saw such a beautiful sight before. Mind you, I have traveled on two oceans, many seas and lakes, and this was a first for me. I don’t know if you ever saw the movie, “Jesus of Nazareth”, but the director was a man named Franco Zefferelli and in his masterpiece, he either re-created or actually filmed the same effect I was seeing right before my eyes. For years I thought he had exaggerated this scene on film; but today, after so many years, I stood corrected. The stars were coming towards us because the sun was fast approaching us as it made its customary encore performance. It was around this time that I felt Jesus near to me.
John saw the Son fast approaching him and performed his first of many encore baptisms along the Jordon River. What a special privilege for him! What a special grace for him to receive the Son of God. “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” But what did he see? I believe he saw not only a theophany and epiphany but also his life, mission and surroundings as one united to God. It was at this time that John felt reassured that God was near to him.
We then traveled to the Mount of the Beatitudes. On the top of this beautiful mountain, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the Lord gave to all of us His Law (His vision) of the perfect man, a man that follows the Word out of faith, hope and love, and not out of words written in letters. Love can do what words can never do: overcome all obstacles, all temptations, all failures and all doubts. What distinguishes the Christian from all other religions is that he lays down his life out of love for God and man, not for something like obedience. Of course others will say that Islam does the same thing. But the proof is found in mercy and compassion – the supreme acts of love. Here alone, the Lord speaks and acts like no other. The sinner must not die. Under no circumstances are we to allow him to die. We must shield and protect him through prayer and sacrifice and wait for their conversion. We must run to them; come closer to them; and never give up on them, for to those who accepted him he gave power to become children of God.