I’m in Toronto, staying at the bed and breakfast owned by my friends Anne and Ihor. Two years ago, I was a stranger on the phone, seeking a place to stay. Many conversations later, we are family.

In a few days, these fine folks are headed to the Holy Land for a ten-day tour with fellow members of their Ukrainian Catholic Church. Anne and Ihor are devout Christians.

This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples:
If you have love for one another
(International Standard Version of the Bible)

You look at Anne and you know. She cares for every one of her guests. If the person is a stranger to Toronto, she’s ready with advice about public transportation. Anne spoke deeply at her dear friend’s funeral a couple of weeks ago. And Ihor? He’s absolutely devoted to his high school students, and knows that the curriculum needs to take a far back seat to growing a human being.

Their visit to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, to the Mount, to Gethsemane, and to the Sepulchre, will be a two-way street of radiance – from the symbols of Jesus’ work in our world into two Canadian hearts, and from those same hearts back to their Lord. And by extension, to other human beings, far and wide.

I’m clear to me that Anne and Ihor’s journey isn’t about achieving anything, such as a deepening of their faith. No, there isn’t any deficit here, nothing to improve. My friends go to Israel as an expression of their profound devotion. Sufficient. And all of us who know them benefit.

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