This past week I have started reading a new book which several friends of mine have recommended to me. It’s called “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” and it’s by James Martin, a Jesuit priest who has written several previous books on spirituality and who is sometimes seen on the Colbert Report, amid other media outlets. “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” is based on a trip Martin took to the Holy Land a few years ago. Along with a Jesuit friend of his, he visits sites that are associated with the life of Jesus, including Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, the Jordan River, and the area around the Sea of Galilee. As he visits these sites, he writes about his own experience of being there, about what it’s like to be in Nazareth, for example, and he imagines the life of the young Jesus who grew up there. He combines this kind of descriptive writing with current biblical scholarship which describes what we can know about the life of Jesus based not only on the gospel stories, but on archaeological evidence, and on cultural and sociological studies of what life was like in the place and time that Jesus lived.
It’s a thick book and has the feel, as the subtitle suggests, of being on a pilgrimage with an engaging travel writer, of being taken to places that we have always heard about, places like Bethlehem where Jesus was born or Jerusalem where he died. It also has the feel of a pilgrimage with depth, as Martin reflects on, for example, the “hidden years” of Jesus, the years between age 12 and the beginning of his public ministry, years about which the gospel writers say nothing, but which leave us asking, what happened in his life during those years? Perhaps, he reflects, they were years spent working as a craftsman, living the ordinary life of a first century Galilean. And he asks, what might that tell us about our own seemingly ordinary lives? Perhaps, he reflects, it tells us that the holy takes root within what seems to be otherwise ordinary in our lives.
The book nicely draws us into the mystery of the life of Jesus, and works as both a modern day pilgrimage and as a reflection on what experts on the bible might offer us. James Martin is an expert tour guide. Highly recommended!
Last week we had our Harvest Moon Festival for our Preschool and this Sunday we have an Open House for the Franciscan School. During the week, I love to walk around and see all the activity and life in both of our schools.
Blessings to all as we move through these cool October days!