The Journey of Life – A Gospel Reflection

The Journey that Changes Us

“Wild Strawberries” (1957). The aging professor, compelled by unsettling dreams, embarks on a car journey to Lund with his daughter-in-law to accept an award. As they traverse places from his past, including his childhood home and a symbolic wild strawberry patch, Isak is confronted with his own shortcomings, prompting profound introspection and a reevaluation of his life’s meaning. This narrative underscores the transformative power of travel, echoing the spiritual pilgrimage Jesus imparted to his disciples, guiding them toward self-discovery and inner transformation.

The Journey of Separation

It presents an invitation and a chance to break free from whatever impedes our progress, whatever constrains us. Typically, it’s our desires that propel us to break free from our limitations and embark on a journey.

The journey commences with a desire—a desire often unclear and shrouded in uncertainty. Much like Abraham’s journey at God’s behest, leaving his father’s house behind for an uncertain future marks the beginning of his true life’s journey.

You’re Never Alone in Your Journey

Invariably, the journey unfolds within a communal context. Jesus, recognizing the importance of community, sends his disciples out in pairs, laying the foundation for communal support. Along the path, they share experiences, navigate conflicts, and make decisions collectively. This shared journeying is essential, reminding them they are not in sole control. Walking together fosters mutual witness, reinforcing the authority of their message. With companionship, they bolster each other through moments of discouragement and doubt.

Mark’s gospel implies that Jesus’ sending forth of his disciples is ongoing, reflecting life’s continuous call to journey. To forsake the path is tantamount to abandoning life itself.

Take Nothing While Journeying

Jesus urges the disciples to travel lightly, unencumbered by excess baggage. This call prompts us to shed the burdens that hinder our progress—be it anger, grief, or fruitless relationships. The journey offers an opportunity to exhale deeply, releasing what weighs us down and embracing a path of liberation and renewal.

Choosing to take nothing also provides a valuable opportunity to practice trust, allowing life to care for us and unveiling the hidden providence in the natural order. It’s a reminder not to cling to control or self-sufficiency but to cultivate a space within ourselves for others.

In Matthew and Luke’s Gospels, Jesus instructs his disciples to leave behind even their staffs, whereas in Mark, the staff remains permissible. Some attribute this difference to translation discrepancies, while others suggest it symbolizes the authority bestowed upon the disciples. Alternatively, the staff serves as a practical tool for defense against wild animals encountered along the journey—a concept echoed in Mark’s depiction of personal struggles and challenges. Perhaps Mark’s portrayal of Jesus acknowledges the realities and complexities of life’s path more astutely.

Journeying Lightly

Without this shedding, we risk being burdened by the weight we carry. Excessive baggage can immobilize us, rendering our journey impossible. Yet, embracing simplicity reflects the coherence between our beliefs and actions. It prompts reflection on the life we aspire to lead, discerning whether to carry burdens or revel in their absence.

During the journey, we also shape our perception of God, deciding whether to depict Him as powerful and distant or as a compassionate companion. Jesus, as portrayed in Mark’s Gospel, warns of potential rejection along the pilgrimage. We encounter those resistant to change, hesitant to share, or wounded by past experiences. Accepting such setbacks is an integral part of the journey.

At the journey’s end, there’s a moment for reflection. Like the disciples gathering around Jesus, we review our experiences and memories. Though sometimes, we transition from one experience to the next without pause, it’s essential to find moments to rest and contemplate. These pauses allow us to glean insights before embarking on the next leg of our journey.

Life Sending Us Out

Jesus himself was the pioneer of life’s pilgrimage. Particularly emphasized in the Gospel of John, Jesus is depicted as the one sent by the Father, fulfilling the profound pilgrimage to humanity. Hence, Jesus possesses an unparalleled understanding of the journey’s pedagogy.

Now that you’ve reflected on this gospel, what is the journey that you would like to set out on today?

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