Our pilgrim bus passed an orange truck on Highway 6, headed north from Tel Aviv on Sunday.
“Orange” as in “loaded with fruit.” The flatbed carried dozens of large plastic pallets, all of them packed with citrus. Must have been close to 10,000 oranges on that one truck.
A few kilometers up the road, we zipped past a lemon orchard. And once again, I was amazed by an abundance of “Vitamin C”: Lemon trees as far as I could see, positively laden with fruit. Even the ground was cluttered with bright yellow orbs, spontaneously fallen from overburdened branches.
Surprises, to start to our pilgrimage.
Sunday, we learned, is the beginning of the work week in Israel. The highways are bustling with commerce. And “fresh citrus” plays a not-insignificant role in the local agri-economy.
When later we gathered for Mass in a lower room at our hotel, I was delighted to encounter one of my favorite gospel passages: Jesus, promising God’s people an abundance. “A good measure, packed down and overflowing…” This image of God’s prodigal nature has long been a consolation to me… but I realized, upon actually entering the Holy Land, that it has always been a limited image in my mind’s eye. I saw it only as grain. And I’ve tended to be satisfied with grain.
Here, in Israel, I see a whole new aspect to God’s bounty…and generosity.
Not only “grain” is overflowing God’s measuring cup, but “oranges” and “lemons” and who-knows-what-else besides.
Two hours into my time in the Holy Land, and already God seems to want to show me something — a message, perhaps, about how narrow my vision can be…or how I am inclined at times to keep God in a nice, manageable box.
Juicy. Zesty. Colorful. Extravagant. God is actually so much more!
Lessons flow upon our arrival…
Let us remember that we are in the presence of the Holy and Merciful One.