Dear friends on the way,
Ever since I saw the movie The Way with Martin Sheen in 2014, I have been intrigued, inspired by, and a little obsessed with El Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James. Often called simply the Camino, this centuries-old 500-plus-mile walking pilgrimage across Spain concludes in Santiago de Compostela, a city in western Spain and the home of a cathedral where the remains of St. James the apostle are said to have been buried. Pilgrimages like the Camino are not only about the destination, generally a religious, holy site, but more about the journey itself on which people embark to connect with God and self, for transformation and self-discovery, and to experience the graces that come with a spiritual pilgrimage.
If you are unfamiliar with the movie, the drama tells the story of a grieving father who walks the Camino and finds healing, new meaning and purpose, and evaluates his relationships and priorities, all the while experiencing physical and mental challenges, difficult situations, detours, laughter, and friendship and enjoying good food and drink.
So, Jesus’ words in today’s gospel from John, “I am the way and the truth and the life,” call to mind Sheen’s movie as well as the post resurrection apostolic Christian movement known as the Way.
The early community of Jewish Christian followers of Jesus called themselves that because they lived in a new way. “The way and the truth and the life” was not only Jesus’ self-identification but also the one who connects us to God. Jesus’ life and teachings were all about thinking, acting, loving, and approaching all of life differently, namely to live in harmony with God and one another.
In today’s first reading from Acts, we hear how seriously the early Christians took Jesus’ words. They were deeply concerned that “their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution” and responded by appointing deacons to care for widows and all the vulnerable. Clearly, they put into practice all that Jesus taught about caring for those in need and working together in community.
Like any pilgrimage, our life’s Camino has a holy destination, that glorious dwelling place in God’s house prepared specially by Jesus for each of us. Today’s readings are a reminder that there is a specific path to our dwelling place. Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life.” Jesus is the path, the way, the Camino. We need only to look to Jesus’ example of how to live in harmony with God and with one another. Yes, on this Camino, we will stumble, fall, and fail, but if we consistently seek Jesus, make him our shepherd, I am confident we will experience mini conversions and transformations that cause us to think, act, and love in Jesus’ way.
Hopefully, laughter, friendship, and good food and drink will grace us along the way. I’m hoping my room is a large dining room with a long table, comfy chairs, twinkle lights, candles, flowers, delicious
meals (that always include potatoes and cheese), wine, music, and all the amazing
people I have met on the way.
Teresa Runyon Pastoral Associate
P.S. Fr. Patrick has walked the Camino twice and shares his experience on his website www.pilgrimheart.org.
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