For the Journey

When going on a journey, we would want to have made arrangements, procured maps, made reservations. With all these things done, we might still wonder whether we are on the right highway and whether we really want to stay here or go there.

This week we are encouraged to pull off the highway to check things over before continuing this following of Jesus. There are some important questions to be answered. We might be asking Jesus some, and we might be asking ourselves some others. These questions are prayerful even if they might seem a bit doubting and distrustful. The newly called fishermen did not seem to have any questions or doubts when Jesus first called them, but as we read on in their relationship with Jesus, they had many. They did not know what lay ahead for them, but as they bumped into problems and challenges, they would turn to Jesus with puzzled faces and say things like, “Don’t you care? We’re sinking!”

So we pray for comfort as we review and preview. The call of the Gospels and the Spiritual Exercises is both to come and see and then to go and do. So what have we seen these past weeks of this sacred journey? What of his ways are delightful or disappointing? Perhaps when contemplating his birth, the sense of humiliating poverty was too dramatic for us. Watching and listening to Jesus being told that he was the Beloved was a great consolation, because we are, in him, the beloved of God as well. There are some serious implications to being the beloved, and perhaps we would rather be a little removed from such intimacy.

However we find ourselves reflecting with such questions, they do provide us with a prayerful agenda. However we find ourselves, God does too and is always laboring to encourage us through our doubts to trust. “Fear not,” God says to those whom God has called in the past. “Fear not,” Jesus says to us. Fear not our truth, our questions, our doubts or resistance. As with the early apostles, when bumping into Jesus, we are bumping into ourselves. We can become a bit discouraged with ourselves, for after being prayerfully attentive these past weeks, we can find ourselves still burdened by the “old leaven.” Jesus loves us the way he finds us, and while this can be embarrassing, it is how Jesus most encountered people, in their seemingly humiliating truth.

There is a future calling into life as well. This week we might pray with our desires to go on or the sense that this has gone far enough. We know that once Peter allowed Jesus into his boat, Peter’s life was changed more than Peter could imagine. There were many who found his ways and teachings hard to hear and took other roads. Jesus invites and not demands. Jesus has love to share with all of us no matter what our responses might be. Jesus requests and not requires.

This week we pray with our usual fears of wanting to know the future, the specifications, and the success rate. The grace of God reverences what is natural to us, and so it is very important to pray simply with those fears, humbling though they may be. His teachings, his way of relating, his pattern of responding, all are a little different from our usual ways. He lived freely his identity. He works to offer us such freedom, but our ways are so familiar and his so new. This week we pray with our own Scriptures, our own record of Jesus’ actions in our lives. We will see more next week of the strangeness, yet attractiveness of his style. This week we rest with our histories of faith, doubt, listening, desires, and frailty. “The favors of the Lord are not all in the past. Every morning they are being renewed.”

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