Tomorrow , I finally make it to the holy city of Santiago. There is a saying made popular by the movie , The Way , that says, “the journey is the destination.” Yes, that is true, to a certain extent, especially if the journey and life , itself, isn’t very religious. Destinations…arrivals to specific places, are very important, whether you are religious or not. We are all going somewhere, I hope. But if you don’t really believe in the religious significance of a historical person named James, Iago in Spanish, who was an Apostle of Christ, then the destination of the city of Santiago or “St. James” really means nothing. I’m not even sure why getting the official Certificate at the Cathedral is so important. Maybe, deep down, the destination IS important , after all.
We all have a destination awaiting us: living in the Kingdom, in the city of the Living God. This “place” or destination, is the ONLY one on which ALL are invited and welcomed. Jesus told a poignant parable about an who gave a dinner party and invited many people. Each person had a reason , an excuse, not to go to the dinner. In essence, they were busy or preoccupied with other matters believed more important. So the man becomes furious and tells the servants to go into the byroads and alleys and invite the poor and crippled. The story jesus told doesn’t say it, but the implication or outcome is that these unfortunate ones, “Les Miserables,” accepted and dined at the feast.
Perhaps we become too inflated in self importance, that we really believe that we are important and indispensable. The truth is that we are ALL dispensable in the world in which we live, someone can and will take our place. We will be forgotten by most.
This isn’t depressing, it is simply the reality of life in this world and on this side of the Kingdom.
But there is a destination where each and every human being has a place at the table. We are ALL invited to feast at this dinner party which celebrates our arrival at a “destination.”
Jesus gave us the Eucharist as the Meal which makes present his love for all of us in the cross and resurrection. It is a Meal on the pilgrimage of life…
This truly is a feast that anticipates the great Banquet at the end of time when All are gathered around the one table. We are “destined” for this great feast, which becomes our ultimate destination.
We have this feast of the Mass that our church has placed too many restriction on who can partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. If we want to be a welcoming and inviting church and parish, what message do we give when we say , “Your invited , but don’t come to Communion if your are not Catholic of if you are in mortal sin. ”
Restrictions to the great feast of Mass do not seem in the spirit of the gospel.
And the ways I have seen the Mass celebrated in a number of countries, we have no reason to be so restrictive.
Perhaps we even need to rethink the whole RCIA process, the process that gradually initiates a person who is not a Catholic into full communion with the Church. It doesn’t seem to be working and our church needs to look
into this process of initiation that is cumbersome and outdated. Our theology of the Eucharist needs a larger heart of mercy.
So many pilgrims on this wonderful journey have no relationship with any church or religion, a reality that saddens me. The Camino is fast becoming a walk of endurance and an adventure of challenge. These are important reasons to make the Camino , for many, if not most of the people I have met. And the people I have met are truly wonderful people…God’s holy people. But it has been difficult and awkward trying to talk faith on a pilgrimage rooted in faith with people who do not have the desire to engage in such discussions.
But tomorrow , the fifth of November in the year 2014, thousands of pilgrims will arrive at a destination…a truly “holy city ” where they will come to the feast of the Mass and realize, deep down, that the destination IS vital and essential. The priest will hopefully welcome ALL to the Feast, in the Spirit of the Feast’s Founder. Without this destination, these pilgrims could never experience the JOY, I have no doubt they will experience , when they embrace “friends” they will most likely will never see again, one last time , until that ultimate destination….where goodbyes never happen.
Buen camino. Padre.