Fr. Michael Harrington Director of Outreach and Cultural Diversity and Assistant Vocations Director in the Archdiocese of Boston. He is one of 29 priests joining Cardinal Seán O’Malley for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land between April 8 and April 15. We’ve asked him to share his experiences on their second full day in the Holy Land.
By Fr. Michael Harrington
Today, the Boston priests who are walking in the footsteps of Jesus spent a little time on a boat. We went out on an unforgettable cruise of the Sea of Galilee. It was so peaceful and beautiful. I can understand why Jesus spent so much time there. While on the sea, I was contemplating how Jesus would have had, for the most part, a similar view to what I was seeing in that moment. Our tour guide shared with us that although the sea was quite serene for our journey its geographical positioning and the down winds that come from the mountains can turn, without much notice, peaceful waters into rough waves and on occasion raging tempests. That was just the situation for the disciples mentioned in the Gospels where a storm came suddenly upon them to the point that the waves were swamping over the boat making them fear for their lives. The disciples were not able to rest easy until Jesus took control of the situation. The Lord arose from his sleep to rebuke the winds and calm the waves.
As we stopped for reflection in the middle of the Sea, I was thinking of the above story which can be found in Mark 4:35–41, Luke 8:22–25 and Matthew 8:23–27. The story is famously known as Jesus Calms the Storm. I was reflecting how all the priests on this boat have had to endure storms in their lives that come from the raging winds of our own weaknesses or the violent waves of the trials and tribulations of the people we love and serve. We are tempted too often to fight the storm with our own strength. By doing so, we almost always remain tossed in the winds that blow. However, if we allow Jesus to take over – and we have to learn this lesson again and again – we come to see that only he can steer the boat to peaceful shores.
My brother priests and I brought many petitions and prayers of family members, friends, and parishioners to the Holy Land. I carry with me two notebooks full of petitions, one of them filled completely by many of the Daughters of St. Paul and members of the Pauline Family. These prayers and petitions show the hunger and desire of people who want The Lord to touch the fabric of their lives, to heal them both body and soul, to lift them up from their trials and tribulations, and to help them bear their crosses. Many of these people are experiencing situations in their lives where they feel swamped by the raging winds and crashing waves that life sometimes brings. They have asked us priests to pray for them. In a sense, they want us to ask Jesus to arise and bring them some peace and guidance. Today on the boat, I saw some priests poring over petitions that had been written down and others spending quiet moments in reflection surely thinking of those who have asked us for prayer.
Jesus began his public ministry to people along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He began his public ministry where he found people who were hungry. He began his public ministry among people who could recognize their weakness and therefore their need. In like manner, Jesus turns today to those who are hungry for His love, to those who recognize their need, to those who feel tossed by the winds and waves of life. He desires that we go to him and invite him into the center of our lives. From there, He calms the storm.
To all you friends, family, parishioners and our communities of faith, we your brothers and priests are praying for you!
Cardinal Seán and a group of 29 priests of the Archdiocese of Boston have traveled on an Easter pilgrimage to the Holy Land this week, and they’re bringing the readers of TheGoodCatholicLife.com blog along with them.
All this week, our colleague George Martell is traveling with the pilgrimage, embedded with the Cardinal and his priests so we can bring you photos, blogs, videos, and audio reports from the Holy Land from the pilgrims at such places as the Basilica of the Annunciation, Mount Carmel, the Sea of Galilee, the Church of the Transfiguration, Qumran, the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Upper Room, and more. This once in a lifetime opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Jesus with Cardinal Seán and the Archdiocese’s priests as an Easter retreat experience.
Please stay tuned to www.thegoodcatholiclife.com, as well as www.BostonCatholicPhotos.com and www.YouTube.com/BostonCatholic and our Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/bostoncatholic and Twitter account: www.twitter.com/bostoncatholic for the latest updates from the Holy Land.