What We All Want: “We Want to See Jesus”

June 7, 2024

Just before Jesus entered into the last weeks before his Passion and Death, we find in the Gospel of John’s twelfth chapter these two bits of dialogue:

The Pharisees said to one another as they watched the crowds listening to Jesus: “Look, the whole world has gone after him” (Jn 12:19) and the Greeks asked Philip, one of Jesus’ apostles, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21).

As the Eucharistic Pilgrimage winds its way through cities and countryside and pilgrims meet around Jesus in Mass and adoration, fellowship dinners, educational talks, ministry, and service, the “whole world” has this amazing opportunity to be with the Lord now visibly in their midst.

Eucharistic procession under a canopy on a city street

Touching Hearts Along the Way

We read in the Gospels that Jesus touched the hearts of people even when he was just passing through their village, like Zacchaeus. He changed the lives of those who entered into conversation with him, like the Samaritan woman. As people watched him from afar, probably knowing very little about him, they felt this attraction to him: “We would like to see Jesus.” People came to Jesus in crowds, certainly, but each one of them had something personal that ignited this desire within them to see the Lord with their own eyes, to hear him, to be known by him, to be his friend.

In a conversation between Cardinal Dolan and Marina Frattaroli posted on the Catholic NYC Facebook page on May 25, Cardinal Dolan brought out this very aspect of the Eucharistic Pilgrimage: “Now here’s the thing. What a magnificent ancient Christian devotion: pilgrimage. You’re doing what Jesus did on Palm Sunday, you’re doing what Jesus did on the Way of the Cross. This is phenomenal. This walking together in company with the Lord. It’s a microcosm of life itself.”

Large crowd of religious and laypeople walking in a Eucharistic procession

Becoming the Presence of Jesus to Others

Marina knows what she is talking about when she speaks of reaping harvests of grace connected with the Eucharistic Revival. She stated: “The Revival taught me about the doctrine of the Eucharist, and, ultimately made me join the Catholic Church... I’m on this pilgrimage because joining the Catholic Church has been such a grace-filled experience for me, and I want to share those graces with others.”

Bishop Whalen, Auxiliary Bishop of New York, said in a homily to those who were joining the Eucharistic Caravan in Westchester County, NY, “We have a hunger for the Lord. Our city, our country has a hunger for the Lord and needs the Lord. Why? Let’s face it, this great faith of ours began with 12 guys walking with Jesus around the lake. St. Augustine teaches us what the Eucharist is about, not just the Eucharist in itself, but the Eucharist as it moves, changes, deepens us, nourishes you, me, all of us together to become the walking presence of Jesus for others.... We’re able to walk the streets of our lives, nourished [by] the Eucharist, and be the leaven.”‍

Crowd of laypeople, religious, elderly, and families in a Eucharistic procession with umbrellas in the rain

Going Deeper in Prayer

Chima Adiole, one of the pilgrims on the Serra Route, shared how being able to walk the streets of Jesus is deepening her prayer: “Because we have a lot of time with Jesus in the Eucharist, whether during adoration in the van or processions in the streets, my understanding of prayer has broadened beyond what I understood before. Praying could be saying the Rosary with my team in the van, singing hymns during Eucharistic processions through the streets of San Rafael, and it could also be interacting with parishioners after Mass at the Cathedral in Reno. Importantly, praying is also listening to the Lord speak to my heart throughout the course of the day.”

Matthew Heidenreich, one of the Perpetual Pilgrims on the Marian route, walked with the faithful in the procession on May 24 from St. Albert in Albertville, MN, to the parish of St. Michael. “It is just mind-boggling,” he said. “It has been so beautiful to see how excited people are for the Lord to come. Seeing towns come to life, church bells ringing, people coming out and singing, making time to be with the Lord is striking, and it fills me with so much hope.”‍

Priest raising the monstrance in blessing over a crowd of hundreds of people kneeling in prayer and worship before the Eucharist

Jesus Is Waiting to Walk with You!

The amazing thing is that this Jesus who walked with the apostles throughout Galilee is walking in your life also. Being able to join the Eucharistic caravan isn’t necessary to meet him. He is waiting for you in the church nearest you, at Mass and in Holy Communion, or in the quiet of an adoration chapel. You can make your own Eucharistic pilgrimage to Jesus in a church near you. One young woman who made her own mini-pilgrimage in Boston since she wasn’t able to join the launching of the Seton Route of the Pilgrimage in New Haven, Connecticut, reflected on how much God cherishes us and how he wants a relationship with us. All of us. “God wants us to bring our successes, failures, talents, and brokenness to him. He already knows everything. He is just waiting for us.”

So in these weeks of Pilgrimage, allow the Lord to find you. Go out to meet him. Find some quiet time just to be with him. Talk to him about your life. Tell Jesus what’s worrying you, your problems, something beautiful you saw today, your plans, even your dreams. You are always welcome at Mass. There, in the Eucharistic Liturgy, as Bishop Whalen explained in his homily, “We are once again at the Last Supper. We once again stand with Mary and John at Calvary. We run out with Peter and John to the empty tomb. The Paschal Mystery comes alive in each of us. We’re able to walk the streets of our lives, nourished at the Eucharist, and be the leaven.”

Plan your own mini pilgrimage with this guide! Find out how to join the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage here.

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