When you approach the tabernacle remember that He has been waiting for you for twenty centuries. – St. Josemaria Escriva
Three hours ago, my parents and I finally touched down on American soil with the rest of the pilgrims. While waiting for the rest of our group to get past the U.S. Customs lines, I saw a man sweetly greet “welcome home” to his wife. Typically I’d gag at this kind of situation, but witnessing their love for each other made my heart warm. Steel barriers separated those waiting for those who’d just arrived, but not these two. As soon as she saw her husband, she stood on her toes to get in reach of his neck for a sincere hug; seconds later, he carried her over the barrier. That kind of hug was evident that they’ve been without each other for quite some time. But despite the separation for however long they were apart, the love remained.
The past week and few days overseas have been incredible. Each day and night was spent in reflection on our Lord, our Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and countless saints that have gone before us. I felt Jesus’ Presence in the places He walked and that Presence was solidified through the Masses we celebrated every day. Whatever extra time we had after each tiring day, I always pushed myself to visit Him in the Tabernacle, even if it was only for a few minutes. My room in Jerusalem was only a few steps away from the Church making it the most convenient travel ever. (No excuses this time around! Haha.)
Before my group left for the airport at one in the morning (our flight was at 5:30AM!), a few of us spent the last hour and a half in front of the Tabernacle, singing praises to the One who made all of this possible. Once I got onto the bus, I realized how much I missed Him already, praying that the renewed desire I had would continue burning for the weeks to come.
Coming home to that quote above by St. Josemaria Escriva reminded me of how much I’ve neglected Him within the past few months, by not wanting to see Him for a few minutes after classes at the Chapel on campus or not waking up early enough to receive the Eucharist. I may have convinced myself with the notion of “trying it again tomorrow” during those situations, but those plans always fell through. I blamed time restraints or inconvenient locations, but what it really came down to was the lack of effort on my part. I didn’t try very hard. And because of that lack of effort, I kept Him waiting for a long time. Fortunately, what He had in store for me during my pilgrimage brought me back to my senses. All it took for me to get myself back on the glory road was the recognition of His LOVE. And I’ve been blessed to feel that love from all kinds of perspectives (which I hope to share in future posts).
The steel barrier you see and feel that prevents you from coming back to God is sin, but once you go to Reconciliation, our Merciful Lord will destroy that barrier and embrace you with a sincere love never felt before. When you finally come back to Him, you can’t help but sing praises with great joy. Sometimes you can’t help but cry. Other times you sit or kneel in silence or write love letters to Him in a journal. When I finally came back to Him while on pilgrimage, I experienced those emotions, sang, and wrote. Whatever it may be, He’ll always be aware of the love and joy you possess in your heart for Him here on earth. It’s your way of embracing Him back.
Seeing that married couple’s love for each other may have warmed my heart, but in the occasion where I’m able to witness that kind of love between a person and God, whether I know that person or not, is a breath of fresh air. Fresh clean air.
He’ll always be waiting to embrace you, but will you embrace Him in return? Whether or not you decide to come back to Him, His love will never change… even if it takes you your entire life to embrace Him back.