We have all heard the phrase real men don’t cry, well I guess over the past couple of years I have lost my manhood. As my prayer life has increased I find myself seeing and feeling things around me that I never saw or felt before. Before I go further I need to make one thing perfectly clear. I am not a saint, I am a sinner, but I am trying to live my life by God’s plan. During our visit to the Holy Land, we visited and became a part of Christ’s story in our own personal way. The bible became alive in a very real sense for me. Life at home since then has been an awakening experience.
Being in the Basilica of Annunciation where the Angel Gabriel asked her to be the human mother of our Lord I thought of how in those days unwed mothers could easily end up being stoned to death, I marveled at her courage and love for God when she said “Let it be done according to God’s will”. Full trusting love filled the Basilica and tears of joy flowed.
Another moving site was the Church of the Nativity, ageless beauty was all around us and then we descended to the birthplace of our Lord. Touching the site of Christ’s birth was emotional and humbling. Here God became man to save us, save me from our/my sins. It is a quiet alcove with no one talking until a group started singing Silent Night. You felt as though you moved back 2,000 years and we’re welcoming our newborn King. The love in that tiny alcove was so strong many of us had tears flowing down our cheeks.
While visiting the primacy of Peter where Christ asked Peter 3 times, “Do you love me?” And Peter replied you know I love you, Christ instructed Peter to tend and feed his sheep. This after Peter denied him 3 times before the crucifixion, it shows us Christ’s unending love and forgiveness for us. Christ forgave Peter at the sea of Galilee and our guide instructed us to mentally imprint our guilt, failings, and doubts on a rock on the shoreline and throw those doubts and sins into the sea and be reborn just as Peter was reborn. Tears of joy flowed freely here especially in reactions between us Pilgrims.
Then the most emotional site of our trip, Holy Sepulcher, the site of the crucifixion and burial of our Lord. We climb the stairs higher and higher reach in the site of the crucifixion, we see the rock that held his cross upright, we reach our hand into the hole where the cross was inserted. I think of the scourging Christ endured, the long climb carrying his cross up to this place after hours and hours of beating and whipping, I think of all my sins I have made against God, I caused this with my sin, every strike of the whip tearing away skin, every hard step carrying the cross was a result of my/our sins. I can almost feel the pain of each nail being drove into his hands and feet. How can I continue to live a sinful life knowing all Christ went through for my redemption? I am so ashamed of myself, as I kneel here and pray, knowing what Christ went through I feel a warm embrace overtaking me, the love of God is growing in my heart I believe, and as that loves grows stronger the tears of love and joy are filling my heart to overflowing, tears are running down my cheeks, I feel embarrassed but looking around I see many like me tears on there cheeks as well. Love fills the room.
We attended Mass in front of our Lord’s tomb, the consecration took place inside the tomb. It was here that after 3 days Christ rose from the dead. Love rose and defeated Satan and his empty promises, Eternal life was offered to all who believe in Christ’s redemption.
Going up to receive Holy Communion you are walking up to the front of the tomb and the door is open just as it was when the rock was rolled away and Jesus exited his tomb. We are standing at the site that is nothing but true love in the purest and strongest form. Love is all around us, we feel it grow in our hearts, it grows to overflowing as more tears flow down my cheek.
We are back home in the States now, I am drawn to visits to the Blessed Sacrament, I cherish my time with our Lord, in the quiet of an empty church I feel the love of God in a real way, sometimes that love becomes so strong that again the tears flow. One day my Parish Priest sees me there and I think he notices I have been crying because he asks if I am ok. I say I think I am but that ever since the increase of my prayer life and the trip to the Holy Land I get emotional easily especially in the presence of our Lord. He smiles knowingly and explains that God has softened my heart so that the Holy Spirit can readily enter and fill me with love for myself and more importantly, my fellow man. He called it the “Gift of Tears”
Now I find myself hurting deeply, and the tears are flowing as I write this for that wonderful loving Priest is facing the challenge of his life. He has a cancerous brain tumor, I am afraid for him, I have come to love him deeply. To me he has become the living version of Christ here on Earth. Not that I think he is Christ but he is the embodiment of Christ that God put in my life at this time to help guide and lead me. I struggle with the thoughts he has to be going through. I wish there was a way to share with him what he has meant to me. I wish we could share a tear, because I have come to believe that if you truly want to become a child of God, then Real Men have to learn to cry.