“Over the river and through the woods…” Are we there yet?

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The holiday season has arrived and traveling with small children to Grandmother’s house can be quite a challenge. Still despite the restless squirming, the squabbles, and the endless questions and complaints, we make the journey. We figure the time with our extended family is worth it.

Last month the Gospel set us on a journey. When he was healed, the blind man picked up his mantle and followed Christ. Our faith leads us on that journey with the man. We are also asked to follow Christ. Last week we were told of signs that would let us know when we were close to our destination. Are we there yet? No, we are still journeying. On our journey, there are certain “landmarks” and “rest stops” – Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Reconciliation, Retreats, RENEW, and Cursillo, for example. Like rest stops on the highway, we may stop and pause before moving forward. Unfortunately, too many of us confuse these rest stops with our destination. “Now that I am confirmed, I don’t need to learn anything more about my faith.” The coming Advent helps to prod us forward again. It offers us the opportunity to keep growing in the understanding of our faith.

In today’s’ gospel we learn more about our destination – the kingdom of God. While many of the Jewish people were expecting that the Messiah – whoever he was – would recreate a powerful kingdom where the Jewish people would reign, Jesus explained that his Kingdom was not of this world. The destination they were hoping for was not where he was leading them. This is the point where many turned away from him in disappointment, instead of following with trust and faith. On my faith journey, I all too often console myself that when God’s kingdom arrives, I will have a nice house and all kinds of luxuries. WRONG! I can’t just sit back and wait for the Kingdom of God to arrive. It isn’t the kingdom that is traveling, it is my journey. And what Jesus promises isn’t of this world. I need to focus on my spiritual journey, to be sure I’m still moving forward.

This Sunday I sit here and ponder the destination as well as the journey. Is it worth the trip? No-one promised it would be easy. What am I doing to make it work? Have I incorporated prayer and love into my everyday life? Am I allowing myself to be distracted by the inevitable squabbles? I have a trustworthy roadmap – have I detoured off the route Jesus has laid out for me? Have I spent too much time at the plaza and forgotten where I’m trying to go? I’m seeking the kingdom of God but it isn’t of this world. I need to stop complaining about the difficulty of the journey and get back on the road. Life may be a journey, not a destination, but I’m convinced the destination Christ offers is worth the trip.

Linda Crowley