Why oil matters

Sunday 32 in Year A

A Night in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

An Unforgettable Sabbatical in Jerusalem

In 2017, I embarked on a sabbatical that led me to the heart of Jerusalem, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This journey was not just a physical one, but a spiritual exploration that left an indelible mark on my faith. I was among the throngs of pilgrims, each of us eager to enter the sacred tomb, some waiting for hours in long queues. However, I was fortunate to have a priest who arranged for us to stay overnight in the church, an experience that was both humbling and enlightening.

The Ritual of Locking the Doors

The ceremony of locking the doors was a spectacle in itself. Representatives from different Christian communities participated, and interestingly, a Muslim held the key. This act of unity was a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness of faiths. Once the doors were locked, the maintenance work began, which included replenishing the oil lamps. We had to wait for about two hours before we could enter the tomb, a period filled with anticipation and reflection.

Seeking Solitude Amidst the Bustle

During this waiting period, I sought a quiet corner to pray. However, the maintenance work and restoration activities happening in the basilica made it challenging. Yet, amidst the interruptions, I found myself reflecting on the significance of oil and lamps in my faith. They symbolize openness to the wonders of God, a beacon guiding us towards divine wisdom.

The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids: A Lesson in Preparedness

In the quietude of the church, I found myself contemplating the parable of the ten bridesmaids. This story emphasizes the need to be prepared and offer oneself to care for others. It served as a reminder that salvation is not achieved through works alone but through God’s invitation into a celebration of life, goodness, joy, and wonder.

The End of the Liturgical Year: A Time for Reflection

As the liturgical year drew to a close, I found myself reflecting on my journey, both physical and spiritual. The experience of spending a night in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was a profound one, filled with lessons and insights that I will carry with me.

In conclusion, my visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was more than just a sabbatical. It was a journey of faith, a time for reflection, and an opportunity to deepen my understanding of my beliefs. It was a reminder of the importance of patience, unity, and preparedness in our spiritual journey. And above all, it was a testament to the wonders of God, symbolized by the oil lamps that light our path towards divine wisdom.

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