Tuesday, June 6, 2017

When in Rome, Do What the Romans Do

You've heard that saying, but it's
so much better "When in Rome, do what Christ would do!" "Do What the Romans Do" comes from when visiting a foreign land, you should follow the customs of those who live in it. It can also mean that when you are in an unfamiliar situation, you should follow the lead of those who know the ropes. And, knowing the ropes sure comes in handy when you have an expert guide who knows the ropes around here.

It was great to meet up with my dear friends, Charles and Sheila Michie at the airport. All loaded up on our bus, our guide pointed out every detail imaginable about this ancient city, from the architecture, to the paintings, to the art, to the music, to the holy places that we came here for. Then we headed for an authentic Italian meal. I understand that pasta and bread are always the appetizer, then the main course is a meat and another starch/carbohydrate. BTW -- it was a similar meal for dinner last night! Makes one wonder "How do those Romans stay so thin?" LOL! I'm sure it's the walking, and we'll be doing a lot of that today as we walk to St. Peter's Square -- Vatican City, for the Papal Audience with Pope Francis. We'll be getting up at 5:30 with breakfast at 6:30 and giving us plenty of time for getting a great seat. I'm stoked about that! I'll be taking lots of notes, for sure.

Then our guide took us to the catacombs -- the underground burial place for many martyrs who died for their faith. It sure caused us to think twice before we think we have something to complain about. Then we were thrilled to head to St. Paul's Basilica where we had it entirely to ourselves. The Basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I over the burial place of St. Paul, where it was said that, after the Apostle's execution, his followers erected a memorial for him.

I was so humbled to bow before his burial place and offer thanksgiving to him for living his faith so audaciously and relentlessly once he came to Christ, even though he would pay the ultimate price of being martyred for his faith. As I considered him, I thought about the seeds that were planted from his life and his writings that would be life-changing for so many lives. And, look at those seeds today, piligrims from all over the world that come to honor him for his contribution to their lives. I love the times we have to pause together to offer thanksgiving and praise to God for those like Paul and other martyrs who died for their faith, but live as that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on in our faith.

Just look at the faith of Paul in his writings here in Romans 8:31-39. He sure doesn't sound like a complainer in any way! "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Around the dinner table tonight, we talked about our Lord and Paul and their sacred writings that carry on in our hearts and lives today -- so much so, that we just can't get enough of that good news, that we had to come on this pilgrimage to take our faith to another level. Like the two walking with Jesus on the Road to Emmaus and they discussed the scriptures, then Jesus broke bread with them and then disappeared....we too said, "Did not our hearts burn within us as we walked and talked with Him today?" Luke 24:32

Stay tuned for tomorrow and the words of Pope Francis!