Mt. Zion, Jerusalem
Today, we hosted a group we’ve affectionately-termed, The Friends of Mundelein. We knew a few members of the group because they were from the seminary staff. Others were from Chicago parishes that have longstanding relationships supporting the seminary financially and prayerfully. Still others were benefactors who have directly made this trip to the Holy Land possible. Needless to say, we are so grateful for their friendship. If that wasn’t enough, after a month in a foreign country it was nice to see some friendly faces!
We were happy to play host to them this afternoon by introducing them to our favorite shopkeepers, favorite churches, and by simply enjoying one another’s company touring the old city of Jerusalem. It was great to share what we’ve learned over the last month and it was good practice for our return in just a few short days!
Being away from home for some of us has been harder than others. Although the last month has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the culture in which Jesus lived and to see these monumentally important places in of our faith, spending time away from our favorite foods and places has been an adjustment. Yet, the hardest part though has been being away from the people that have grown so influential in our lives and our vocations.
Aside from Jesus’ family, I imagine He too made friends in and around Jerusalem just like us. Walking through the streets, conversing with neighbors, going to the markets, Jesus probably had people who were drawn to Him quite naturally. The disciples must have been especially attracted to Him because they left everything, even their families and careers, to follow Him. Jesus, returned the favor to those at the Last Supper saying, “I no longer call you servants...I call you friends” (Jn 15:15). Furthermore, after the resurrection Jesus appeared to His disciples often after because of the profound friendship they shared.
Friendship is one of God’s most treasured gifts to us as men studying for diocesan priesthood. A friend with whom we can share life’s sorrows and joys is priceless. Without a doubt, we seek intimacy primarily from our Lord in prayer and study, but we also depend on the friendships we’ve made throughout our time at the seminary to sustain and charm our lives. Today was one of those days. Even though we are over 6,000 miles from home, it was a great day to spend with friends.
“Friendship makes all of life shine brightly.” -Henri Nouwen