A Jesus book that offers a unique perspective on traveling through Israel

006202423XFather Martin tells a great and personal story in JESUS: A PILGRIMAGE.. And he sure does pray a lot. It appears as if he stops and prays and meditates at each historic site. A former GE financial analyst and Wharton grad, he is now an editor at large of America magazine, a popular media commentator, and a religious commentator for The Colbert Report.

Father Martin travels through Israel and Jordan (with another Jesuit, George) and areas in between and gives their perspectives on the locations they visit, his faith, and prayer, and adds in lighthearted moments. His pilgrimage has ‘produced good fruit’ for us in the form of this book. In addition to the spiritual travelogue and educated discussions on things like Greek phrases, I like the zingers, such as “After a series of improbable detours that took us to the desert… , to a lonely monastery, and ‘to the edge of heat stroke'”

In Bethlehem they visit a site that Catholics find holy, but Russian Orthodox say the site is a few blocks away; in instances like these, I enjoyed his travel realities. Or the reality of traveling with a friend and the stresses that might develop no matter how close people are, such as the time he and George and an empty listerine bottled glowered at each other at the River Jordan in a ‘suddenly seemingly smaller’ car (note to file: do not splash a guy with water in the polluted Jordan River). I also relished his insights into “baggage” (and how a baked good can recall a memory) as he recalls his college years and what he thought was unholy sillyness but actually not devoid of spirituality (“sometimes we close the door to our past, thinking that we have progressed.”) Also, at a dreamy Capernaum, Father Martin asks why Jesus moved to Capernaum and not Jerusalem? (maybe he liked the beach?); and he shares the lesson of Bartimaeus ben Timaeus (which reminded me of Kotzker Rebbe query on preaching and ministering to a person: you need to personally know the person / study partner.

If you liked this, you might also like, Israel: A Spiritual Travel Guide: A Companion For The Modern Jewish Pilgrim by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, which includes space for your recollections of each site