By Octavio Edgington, Vanderbilt University, Bus 6 Today, we had the opportunity to visit the Mount of the Beatitudes, a gorgeous little hill that overlooks the Sea of Galilee. For Christians such as myself, this location has an especially large impact, because if the land could talk, it could tell so many stories of the life and ministry of Jesus. The lessons and ideas preached there still have a day-to-day impact on the lives of millions of people today. When we arrived, the beautiful site was partly cloudy day with a gentle breeze, which was the perfect weather to complement this breathtaking scenery. I had been asked to lead a discussion on the meaning of this site. You would think that I was really exited for this, but I almost turned down that opportunity.
Israel Uncovered has been a whirlwind of an experience. I was travelling from Phoenix and it took me an entire day of travel to arrive in Newark. When I arrived we promptly had orientation. Then, after a quick night of sleep, we headed to our 11-hour flight across the world and arrived in Tel Aviv, where we had a fully loaded first day. The second day, which also happened to be New Year’s Day, was full of more adventures and sobering moments. We found out that there had been a major shooting that made worldwide news, only 10 minutes from our hotel.
The whirlwind of emotions, actions, and lack of sleep had all combined, so when I was approached by Danny in regards to talking at the Mount, I absentmindedly said yes. When I sat down to actually go over what I would say, I struggled to find the energy and motivation. In fact, I thought about asking someone else to take this responsibility on. I was exhausted and didn’t really want to do it. I felt nervous about sharing my Catholic faith among a diverse group of people. However, this quickly changed when I got to a passage that happened at that exact site.
The Acts of the Apostles begins with the narrative of the ascension of Christ to heaven. In this moment, the apostles are left standing there in a whirlwind of emotions of their own. The God-man who had lived among them for 3 years had suddenly left, and for the first time, they had to lead and not just follow. Not only that, but in the last 40 days, they had seen Him arrested and killed, before rising from the dead. The writer of Acts reports that as Christ disappears into the clouds, Angels appear to the people on the Mount to ask them why they were still standing there, almost as one last nudge from Christ to move forward in their ministry.
Now, I know not everyone reading this is a Christian, but I think that there is a very important leadership lesson to take out the Acts of Apostles. As leaders, we are always going to be overwhelmed with the things on our plate. However, we bring so much to the table, and we have others who are counting on us. We should not be afraid to act, instead we should trust that the result will be work out. For me, that was staying up a little later to read last night and it was saying a quick prayer in the Chapel before giving the presentation to the group. The result was beautiful. It was an engaging discussion, and I had both Jewish and non-Jewish members of the trip approach me afterwards to thank me for it. We are now headed to Jerusalem, and I am excited to apply the same concept there. It’s been a long trip and we are only halfway done, but tomorrow will be another opportunity to take in more of what Israel has to offer and I am excited.