When thinking back on my time spent in the Holy Land during the St. John’s Pilgrimage, perhaps the most poignant day was our journey to the Judean Desert where Jesus was tempted by Satan, followed by our visit to the Church of the Annunciation that remembers the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary.
Again the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:8-11)
After time in prayer and silence overlooking the Judean Desert at sunrise, we hiked to a point where it was hard not to hear the above words from Matthew. This is where Jesus wandered for forty days while being tempted by Satan. Jesus had multiple opportunities to have satisfaction and power, but chose instead to follow the will of God.
Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word…” (Luke 1:38)
That afternoon we traveled to Nazareth and walked through the rain to the Church of the Annunciation where Christians remember the angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary, telling her that she would conceive the Christ Child. I can’t imagine the awe and fear Mary must have felt, but she seems to have pushed those feelings aside to courageously say “yes” to what God was asking of her.
It’s been a couple of months since my return from the pilgrimage, and I continue to think about all the temptations in my life. How can I ask Jesus for help in saying “no” to those things that pull me away from a closer relationship with God? And how can I think of Mary and her courage? Saying “Here I am” to God can be a scary thing, but as Mary shows us, it can be more rewarding than anything we can possibly imagine.
Catherine Outten Olivo
Appointed readings for today: Jeremiah 7:23-28, Psalm 95:6-11, Luke 11:14-23