Join Benedict in the Holy Land
Reflections on forthcoming Mass readings by Tom and April Hoopes.
Sunday, May 10, is the Fifth Sunday of Easter (Liturgical Year B, Cycle I).
EWTN.com offers streaming live video of papal events.
Here’s the Pope’s itinerary in the Holy Land this week:
Monday, May 11: Arrival and official welcome in Jordan.
Tuesday, May 12: Jerusalem and Mass at Kidron Valley.
* Visit the Temple Mount and meet with the grand mufti.
* Visit the Western Wall accompanied by the chief rabbis of Israel.
* Visit the chief rabbis at the Heichal Shlomo Synagogue.
* Visit Mount Zion and the Cenacle (the site of the Last Supper).
* Visit Gethsemane Church and a solemn afternoon Mass at the Kidron Valley.
Wednesday, May 13: Bethlehem
* Mass at Manger Square.
Thursday, May 14: Nazareth
* Public morning Mass at Precipice Mountain.
* Visit the Basilica of the Annunciation.
Friday, May 15: Day of Departure
* Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Ignatius.com is Ignatius Press’ website. Scroll down until you see a small round stained-glass face of Mary on the right. Click on “Footprints of God” for the Holy Land DVDs.
To orient the family to what the Pope will be seeing in the Holy Land, we heartily recommend Steve Ray’s “Footprints of God” series. Subscribe to the whole series if you can, but you can start with “Jesus” and “Peter” for an overview — and to introduce both the Holy Land and the papacy.
The “Paul” video is also excellent and appropriate for the year of St. Paul, but there won’t be many Paul stops on the Pope’s trip.
Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22:26-28, 30-32; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8
It’s a happy coincidence that today’s Gospel comes on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the Holy Land. It helps us see how knowledge of the place where Jesus lived enriches our understanding of the Gospel.
Often in his preaching, Jesus uses physical references to his surroundings. This is clear when he talks about water to the woman at the well, or says, “See, the fields are ripe for the harvest.”
When he speaks about the “city on the hill,” we can imagine him and his audience at the Sermon on the Mount. He renamed Simon “Peter,” which means “rock,” in the region of Caesarea Philippi, in the north of Palestine. There is a giant rock there, an excellent visual.
Today’s Gospel is Christ’s “I am the vine” speech, taken from the beginning of Chapter 15 of John’s Gospel. The previous words, ending Chapter 14, were “Get up; let us go” at the end of the Last Supper.
Jesus and his disciples thus had left the cenacle when he said these words. Many commentaries suggest that they would have walked by the Temple, since it was Passover. Perhaps he said them then. In those days, as you entered the Temple in Jerusalem, there was a huge ornate gate made to look like a giant vine.
To imagine Christ saying these words by that gate gives a special connotation to their meaning.
When he says, “I am the vine,” we can imagine a vine on the ground and see him as delivering a spiritual nourishment. But we can also imagine a giant wrought iron vine surrounding the Temple and see him as the guardian and entryway into supernatural life.
When he says, “Anyone who remains in me will bear much fruit,” we can think of our personal relationship with Christ, whom we must stay close to in our own way each day. But we can also imagine the gate of the Temple and realize that “remain in me” also refers to our relationship with his Church.
And then the next day, we can turn on EWTN and see Pope Benedict XVI in the Holy Land, two millennia later, telling us just how to do all those things in our own day.