Since early in the new year, I have been tuning in to Father Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year Podcast. Recently, we heard the Gospel of Mark. Over and over again I have been reminded of Mark’s generous use of the word “immediately.” It is quite literally tossed throughout his short Gospel as though throwing confetti—and in a sense, he is. Jesus is the Messiah! Jesus is Lord! The Lord has come!
“Mark is a man after my own heart,” I have thought to myself on more than one occasion.
The Pace of Holiness
If I were to have been inspired to contribute to Sacred Scripture, I suspect it would sound an awful lot like Mark’s firehose of miracles. No lag time. No cliff-hangers. Just getting to the heart of the life-changing message that people have been aching to hear, without so much as time for a breath.
I like the pace of “immediately”—particularly in the spiritual sense (probably because it has not been my experience and there are plenty of times I wish that it were). I can think of stunning metaphors about growth and waiting, I probably even have a scripted plaque somewhere to remind myself that “God is never in a hurry, but always on time.” And yet, I cannot help but find myself in the place of impatience.
Overnight shipping, digital pictures, wifi hotspots, tween clothing, Netflix marathons, bullet trains. We are people who hate to be on the way. Yet that is exactly what we are: Pilgrims.
We are Pilgrims
The word “pilgrim” reminds me of those who have participated in the Camino, the way of Saint James through Spain. Whether someone has walked one mile, or all 500, they are known as “pilgrims,” travelers making their way to a holy place. So we all are.
We face crises to remind us that we’re pilgrims, still on the way. The Father uses these moments to change us, to speed us along the way, to transform pilgrims into saints. // Scott Hahn
I wonder if the Lord is hoping to teach me something about patience and persistence in prayer, beginning again?
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The hemorrhaging woman bled for twelve years before she received Jesus’ healing on a crowded street (Mark 5: 25-34). The whole of Jerusalem waited for days to see if Jesus would rise from the dead. Abraham and Sarah waited well into their nineties before they realized their hope for a child (Genesis 18: 9-15). The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years (Exodus).
Many Saints have stories of long waits: Edith Stein (Saint Theresa Benedicta of the Cross) waited to convert to Catholicism in an effort to ease the pain to her Jewish mother’s heart, all the while soaking in Faith like a sponge and teaching at University. Saint Ignatius of Loyola had a major conversion while awaiting recovery from a cannonball to his leg. Saint Teresa of Calcutta famously experienced decades of silence in prayer while serving the “poorest of the poor.”
Come to think of it, Mark may be the enviable outlier; the exception to the rule. A great storyteller in the sense that he captures the imagination of the listener with these vignettes, even when our own lived experience is less-than-expedited.
Without question and in every case, the Lord was moving, working, melding circumstances and hearts to be precisely where they were needed at the right time. The Lord is still moving, working and melding circumstances and hearts—often in ways we had not imagined and would not have guessed. Our identity as pilgrims offers a helpful reminder of our role as travelers who are on the way, incomplete and reliant on our divine Companion.
A Pilgrim’s Prayer
Lord, you who called your servant Abraham out of the town of Ur in Chaldea and who watched over him during all his wanderings; you who guided the Jewish people through the desert; we also ask you to watch over us, your servants, who for love of your name, make this pilgrimage to Santiago de COmpostela. Be for us the companion on our journey, the guide at the crossroads, our strength in fatigue, our shelter from the heat, our light in the darkness, our consolation in discouragement and the perseverance of our intention. So that we under your guidance, safely and unhurt, may reach the end of our journey and strengthened with grace and virtue, secure and filled with happiness, may return to our home.
Through Jesus Chrsit, our Lord. Amen.
Apostle Saint James, pray for us.
Holy Virgin Mary of the Way, pray for us.
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