Its hard to believe that we are in our last days of the Pilgrimage!  Today started out with a visit to the Major Basilica of St. John Lateran where we celebrated Mass in one of the Chapels.  The picture from the altar is a favorite of mine.  St John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist are pointing at Jesus Christ and as the host is raised at the consecration, at the host, as if to say “This becomes this…”  It is truly a moving experience to celebrate Mass in such an amazing surrounding
After Mass we headed to the Sacra Scala – the steps from Pilate’s Prateourium which were brought from Jerusalem to Rome by St. Helena (and a few friends of hers who helped her bring them).  These were the stairs that Jesus walked to be sentenced to death by Pilate.  Its a pilgrim tradition to climb those steps on your knees and to offer a prayer on each one.  For many this is one of the most moving and personal things that they do on the Pilgrimage.  
Immediately after we went to SANTA CROCE IN GERUSALEMME – another Sacred Pilgrimage sight consecrated in the early 300’s housing relics from Jesus’ Passion and death (a nail form his cross, thorns from the thorn of crowns).  While not as oppulent as St. John Lateran, it is quite beautiful in a different way obviously spiritually, but also artistically.
It’s going to be a “free night” for the pilgrims considering tomorrow is their last day and we’re up and at it for Mass at 7:15 am at St. Peter’s Basilica at the tomb of ST. Pope John Paul II.
Thanks for continuing to check in on our pilgrimage.  Have continued to pray for everyone each day – in a special way on the Sacra Scala today.
Here’s my homily for this morning’s Mass.  The Readings:  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/072414.cfm
(Picture of the Basilica of St. John Lateran)

As we’ve returned to Rome, and not to jump ahead too fast, the reality that we’re on the last part of our pilgrimage comes to mind. Sorry, thats not meant to bring us all down, but to challenge us to make the most of these days.  Particularly in light of these readings:

In the first reading from Jeremiah, God speaks to the prophet (and to us) as someone who knows and loves the prophet (and each of us) very intimately. 

He knows the heart. 
He knows us better than we know ourselves. 
And he can’t help but point out that the prophet (and each one of us) can sometimes go from hot to cold in living our faith. Jeremiah (which we read yesterday) early on shows great devotion, great willingness to follow wherever the Lord led… As he’s matured, he gets busy – about the wrong things, he gets distracted, he allows all those things to obscure single hearted faith – and we can relate… we ike Jeremiah can, and often do the same things.  And as we do get distracted, we can become tempted and sometimes give into that temptation to choose our own path instead of what God has set for us.

But then we responded to that reading with those beautiful words of the psalm “With you is the fountain of life O Lord.” We might get distracted, we might get busy, we might forget what we’re supposed to be about – but God is unwavering in his faithfulness to us. Constantly, consistently loving us throughout the journey.

But lest we are tempted to sit back, rest and let God take care of everything, We hear the voice of Jesus, through Matthew, speaking hard words, almost as if he really doesn’t want those who are listening to understand his parables. It seems at odds with the consoling words we’ve heard. But Jesus reminds us that with true faith comes a certain amount of risk-taking, stretching, going beyond our comfort zones, which hopefully this week of pilgrimage has offered each one of us an opportunity to do.

Both St. John’s – the Baptist and the Evangelist – who are remembered in this Sacred Place give striking witnesses to the cost of true faith. John the Baptist is this obscure figure out in the wilderness who lives a life of poverty and repentance and calling others to do the same as the last of the Old Testament prophets pointing to the coming of the Messiah … St. John the Evangelist – the Apostle, the writer – both John’s spent most of their lives pointing to those words etched on the facade of this magnificent place – CHRIST OUR SAVIOR.

They challenge us.  Because most of us seem very comfortable with following Christ — but from a distance.  We sometimes look to maintain our status quo or, at least, grow at our own rate. But hopefully these readings and the unique and special opportunity we’re experiencing on this pilgrimage are redirecting us… Calling us to to let go of our own ideas and agendas and trust, what our loving Father has in store for us. Inviting us to etch in our hearts, to proclaim with our lives – CHRIST OUR SAVIOR

St. John the Evangelist, St. John the Baptist – pray for us.