A semester away in the Holy Land to grow closer to God

My friends in Christ, today, my brother seminarians and I, departed for our semester of studies in the Holy Land.  I am very grateful for this gift to be able to study in the places where Jesus lived and ministered.  My classmates and I will be visiting many places; Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the tomb, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, and other important places where Jesus walked.  Friends and family, I would like you all to know that you will remain in my prayers.  Further, if you have any prayer intentions that you would like me to pray for you at a specific place in the Holy Land, please feel free to message me those requests.  You can either do this through Facebook Messages or my email: sdurkeesc@gmail.com. Regardless, know of my prayers for you on this journey! 

This weekend’s Gospel from John has been perfect for me as I prepare for this semester in the Holy Land.  The Gospel is about Jesus’ ‘first sign’, by the request of his mother Mary, Jesus transforms water into Wine.  In the Gospel of John, every sign and miracle is done for a specific purpose.  For example, some commentators (ex: Scott Hahn) argue that when Jesus healed the crippled man in John 5 it was done to show that Jesus not only can heal the lame (physical healing), but that he can forgive sins (spiritual healing).  

Consequently, my prayer intention for this trip is to continually be converted and transformed as a joyful man of God. Many of you know that I will, God Willing, be ordained a deacon on May 17th this year.  I am super excited about this.  But I do hope that I will wake up every day and grow closer in intimacy in my relationship with the Lord Jesus.  I want to be a deacon, and ultimately a priest, who shows people just how much God loves them.  I want to help people to see just how much they are a delight in God’s eyes (what we hear in this weekend’s first reading from Isaiah 62).  To do this I must continually be reconverted. I have been in love with Christ and His Church since he changed my life.  Brothers and sisters, I ask that you pray for me, that on this trip, the Lord changes my heart and challenges me to grow in the ways that I need to be a better man and a priest.

Finally, dear friends in Christ, may this weekend’s readings also be an inspiration to you to allow the Lord to change and transform your lives into something new.  Let us be encouraged by Jesus’ desire to come into our lives and transform us! So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come ( 2 Cor 5:17).