Dad was a Protestant preacher.
I loved and admired him. I remember watching his face as he watched Rex Humbard televised shows from the Holy Land. Dad ached to go, to walk where Jesus Christ had walked, to kneel where Christ had died, to touch the place where His body was laid and where the grip of death was broken forever.
Mom loved Corrie ten Boom.
She shared the story of The Hiding Place with us, and we imagined ourselves in that time and place. Would we have been that strong? Would we have created a special room to hide Jews in our own bedrooms? Would we have counted it worth the life of our father or sister to save the lives of so many others?
Would we have been named Righteous Among the Nations as she was?
In August, I saw Auschwitz. I saw the cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe gave his life for another man. I saw the incinerator. The “shower” room.
When I traveled to Israel twice in 2014, I did what my father was never able to do. I walked in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. I thought of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and how it says we hold a special place in our hearts for the matriarchs and patriarchs of Salvation history.
I thought of my parents, how they raised me with that love–how a love for Israel is our common ground … Protestants, Catholics, Jews.
Since then, I have felt the bond with my family grow. It was hard when I became Catholic. It felt like I was outside of them. On another piece of land. On another page of theology. It left an ache.
But the Holy Land is healing that. It is healing us all.
We share common ground.
I don’t like the trend to become political with regard to Israel and the Holy Land. In my heart, I feel only love. I feel my family close, my faith even closer.
I read Sacred Scripture, and I am taken instantly in my mind to where it all happened. I am at Cana. At Mount Tabor. At the Sea of Galilee.
It is a love, but it is a love that has been with me from my earliest memories.
I am told that my grandparents cried when Israel became a sovereign nation. My grandparents quoted Scripture and said, “This was prophesied to happen.” And they believed they were witnessing the fulfillment of Scripture.
The U.S. helped make it happen. We considered ourselves blessed to be able to do it.
“I will bless those who bless you…”
I was raised with the Scripture. The stories. A talking donkey.
A land that I knew was holy. A people that I knew was Chosen.
Yes, I love Israel.