Dear Friends of Magdala,
As I write these lines, I continue to be in awe about the wonderful scenes that I witnessed during the inauguration of the Magdala guesthouse this past 24th of November. The inauguration marks an arrival to a most important destination, one which we are truly thankful to God.
We are also profoundly thankful to our benefactors and friends, to staff and volunteers, and to each and every person that has contributed to Magdala with their work, prayers, and constant support.
As I reflect on these events the passage of the Miraculous Catch from the Gospel of Saint Luke constantly resonates in my mind. In it, Jesus tells Peter, “Duc in Altum…” (Lk, 5: 4), “Launch into the deep and let your nets down for the catch…” to which Peter replies, “Master we´ve worked hard all night and haven´t caught anything.” Nonetheless Peter follows this with a very simple, yet meaningful phrase, “… but because you said so” (in Latin, “In Nomine Tuo) “…I will let down the nets” (Lk, 5:5). Thereafter the magnitude of the catch is so large that Peter had to call on his partners from a second boat to help him bring in the catch, and even then, the boats were sinking from the size of the catch.
The Gospel continues and tells us how immediately Peter fell on his knees and told Jesus, “Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man.” This is a beautiful reverence and I feel like I can share this with Peter upon witnessing the inauguration of Magdala. My heart is overwhelmed to see how God, our Lord, has aligned so many details, events, people, to bring Magdala to life. As I prepared for the inauguration and wrote down my thoughts in thank you cards, letters, and my speech only one word came to mind to describe Magdala, and this was “miracle.”
Magdala is a miracle from God. Only He could have organized, planned, foreseen, and executed with his Providential Love the countless of blessings which He granted us to make it a reality.
The words resonate in my mind once more, “Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man.”
Jesus replies, “Peter, do not be afraid, from now on you will be fisher of men” (Lk. 5:10).
It is in these lines that I too catch a glimpse of the future of Magdala. I understand that we do not have to be afraid and continue forward. God has blessed us abundantly, and Magdala is a beautiful and thrilling reality. We must continue steadfastly forward without doubt or fear.
Our Lord, God, does not want us to fear anything or anyone but the Holy Fear of God. It is necessary to move ahead and He tells us this by calling us, “fishers of men.” As we move forwards we must focus in shaping the future of Magdala, in helping, our brothers and sisters, no matter what this may entail. We must focus in preaching, in accompanying, in sharing, in our pilgrimage journeys, in opening our hearts to those who may be divided or separated, and in communicating, in fraternal, sincere, and generous, dialogue with those who may not share our Christian faith.
To be “fishers of men” means to open our hearts, and arms, to welcome to our guesthouse, to host in Magdala, to share, invite, or even to seek out. It means to be proactive and organize events, conferences, and retreats as well as excite people to join in the programs that Magdala has planned for its near future.
The Miraculous Catch, and the inauguration, are Miracles of God which we thank Him for, as Saint Paul says, with fear and tremble. We also look to the future not being afraid and with much joy and confidence in the new beginning of Magdala.
As we are set to begin 2020, we already have many activities planned, among them a course in iconography at the end of January, followed by spiritual exercises and the second Magdala volunteer encounter, among others. We also continue to plan future programs and prepare ourselves with enthusiasm to “let down our nets.”
In the midst of this I ask myself, what are the nets to use for this invitation of Our Lord? I believe that the nets are “Truth.” It is because of this that Saint Paul said, “Truth in Charity.” We need to preach, just as Jesus did, of the Kingdom of God, and let down our nets through all our programs trusting in him always.
It has been also been through this month that we have been preparing and talking about the Magdala Mosaic, which you find an explanation below, as well as an invitation to help us adopt distinct areas of it, be it an individual mosaic stone, figure, letter, message, title or more. It is in this way that you can help us continue developing our programs. Join us to become part of this new mosaic of Magdala- a human mosaic and one of stones- which brought together are creating a masterpiece and legacy in the Holy Land and one through which you can continue helping us to prepare Magdala´s future.
Wishing you a very Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year! I am praying for each and every one of you and again thank you for all your support through 2019 and these years.
Fr. Juan Maria Solana, LC