May 18, 2014 - 5th Sunday of Easter, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Many years ago, when I was a bit younger, I made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James, the Apostle, in Northern Spain.
Unlike other pilgrimages which take pilgrims in airplanes and air conditioned tour buses, the route to the burial place of Saint James is to be walked.
Pilgrims make their way on foot on some 500 miles of ancient roads winding their way across Northern Spain. The pilgrim route is clearly marked with yellow arrows. These arrows point the way to the shrine.
As long as pilgrims follow the yellow arrows, they walk with a certain trust, a certain faith that they are headed in the right direction.
The trek is grueling. One morning, my friends’ aches and pains were too great for them, so they took a bus. I chose to walk, which meant that on that day, I walked alone.
In the dim light of early dawn I came to a crossroad. Before me were three paths, but I couldn’t find any yellow arrows.
I choose one of the paths and walked a ways looking for yellow arrows. I continued to walk finding a white arrow and then another.
I found it strange that the arrows were suddenly white, not yellow.
But I convinced myself that this must be the way. So I continued walking. Finally, after about an hour or so, I came to the realization that I was lost. I was no longer on the way.
Suddenly, with very limited Spanish speaking skills, I was on my own. With no map, I had to use my physical and mental resources to find my way back to the pilgrim route.
Eventually I did. It took me the whole day and I probably walked an extra 5 to 10 miles because I did not look down all three paths until I found a yellow arrow.
Jesus is our way. Without him we would be lost, left to our own meager resources.
It was easy for me to be fooled by the white arrows. I convinced myself to continue down the wrong path.
It’s easy for us to be fooled by the devil. It’s easy to continue in our sinful ways, traveling down the wrong path.
But Jesus challenges us when he says, “I am the Way.” If we follow Jesus, who is the Way, there are certain promises made to us in this weekend’s Scriptures.
We are told that if we follow Jesus, who is the Way, we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people called out of darkness into God’s wonderful light.
We are also told that if we follow Jesus, where he is, we also will be. He has gone before us to prepare a place for us.
So the Way for us as Catholic Christians turns out to be not a path or a pilgrim route, but a person. To get where we are going, we don’t need yellow arrows or a map or a compass. We need a companion.
Jesus is the one who guides us on our journey because Jesus is our journey. And we encounter him here in this holy place.
Our souls, our spirits, our minds are nourished here in this holy place. We are guided by his word spoken to us in our sharing of the scriptures.
Our souls, our bodies are nourished, fed with his body and blood, food for our journey.
Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. I am the Way.
If you simply follow me, you will never be lost again.”