Earlier this week we celebrated the feast day of the Solemnity of the Annunciation, which to be honest probably does not get the attention it deserves considering this is the moment of the Incarnation, "the Word became Flesh" (Jn 1:14).
However, for me the feast day called to mind our trips to the Holy Land in which we are privileged to visit the town of Nazareth.
Today, Nazareth is a sprawling city with over 60,000 residents. It boast of the largest Arab population, made up of about 70% Muslims and 30% Christians...
Of all the many steeples, minarets and domes, one church towers above the rest, the Basilica of the Annunciation. This modern church built in 1966 over the site of the House of Mary (where she lived during the time of the Annunciation) is the largest church in the Middle East.
Underneath the huge dome is the cave that constituted the back of the house of Mary’s childhood (the actual house has been moved to Loreto, Italy…another fascinating story). Just a little ways from there is the Church of St. Joseph built upon the house that the Holy Family lived in when they returned from Egypt, this is the house the Jesus would have grown up in.
At that time Nazareth would was a small village with around 200 residents. There in the rural back roads of Galilee, Joseph and Mary raised the Savior of the World.
In a sense their home must have been the closest thing to the Garden of Eden since the creation of man. The peace, joy and love in their home must have been indescribable and literally none of the Gospel writers even attempt a narration of their home life. Like the Garden of Eden, God was "walking" with them (cf. Gen 3:8). And as the New Testament clearly suggests in that home dwelt the New Adam and New Eve.
If we truly want to change culture today, we need to intentionally and passionately dedicate ourselves into turning our homes into little "Garden of Edens."
Our homes should be places where:
- God's presence is felt, with prayer and reminders of our Faith
- Peace is sought, there are times of silence, we control the media piped into our Garden trying to stop the serpent from entering in
- Time is given to contemplate the deeper mysteries of life and the Divine just as Mary "kept all these things in her heart" (Lk 2:51)
- Beauty is prized, the Lord manifests His goodness through the beauty of His creation, nature, music, literature and the arts
- We are fed and nourished with a habitual sacramental life, celebrating Baptismdays (better than birthdays), regular Confession and partaking of the Fruit of the Tree of Life...the Eucharist
- But most importantly, realizing that our home is an oasis, a Garden, not to hide from the world or to simply protect us from the outside, but so that we will be prepared to engage today's culture. Our homes must prepare us to continue the ministry and mission of Christ, "to seek and save the lost" (Lk 19:10)
We are returning to the Holy Land (where you can visit the Basilica of the Annunciation and Church of St. Joseph) on January 15 - 25, 2020. We only take one bus so space is already filling up quickly. If you want to check out the itinerary or see more information CLICK HERE: CASTING NETS HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGE
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Casting Nets Ministries
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