God wants to inject hope and happiness into the world
Wanderer, your footsteps are the road and nothing more;
Wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking.
By walking on makes the road, and upon glancing behind
One sees the path that never will be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road,
Only wakes upon the sea.
- Antonio Machado
To live is to go on pilgrimage
The very essence of the human being is to be a pilgrim. It is an ongoing pilgrimage to and from our mother’s womb to the grave. Each movement becomes a discovery, something new, a new path that we explore with uncertainty and with joy at the same time. So many risks and so many achievements made possible in each step. It is a powerful injection of adrenaline that fills us with the energy to move forward and, at the same time, it tires us and wears us out.
We could say the same of our Christian lives. From the moment of our baptism, God instills in us his adventurous Spirit. It is the same Spirit, which made the apostles always go the extra mile. Every new step they dared to take equally filled them with fear as much as it did with energy. The adrenaline of the Spirit made them capable of throwing themselves into the unknown, of trying out new paths knowing full well that they were leaving behind a secure path that they may never walk again. The novelty of what they had discovered always spurred them forward.
The same happens to us. Whatever we discover in life satisfies us but it doesn’t fill us to the brim. Every step we take in life and in our relationship with God is transformed into ripples in the sea, like faint lights that vanish the moment we reach them. It’s as if they are inviting us to design our own path, reaching out to the beyond.
Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)
The Spirit blows where it wishes
At the movement of that Holy Spirit, Peter had the audacity to proclaim Jesus as his Lord when shortly before, he had cowardly denied him. Paul allowed himself to be swept up on the wings of that loving wind and carried boldly to the farthest regions of the known world after his transformation from persecutor to apostle. Mary Magdalene left her life of licentiousness and became a joyful evangelizer. Zacchaeus left his life as a moneylender in order to become a generous benefactor, and so many other fearful and timid followers began to prove themselves courageous witnesses because of this Holy Spirit.
In these times the whole Church is experiencing that surprising and mysterious gust of wind. Pope Francis constantly surprises us by courageously navigating unknown waters of compassion and tenderness, of attentive listening and dialogue, of admirable integrity and spontaneous daring. His transparency and simplicity of life moves us to examine all church organizations and personnel in order to offer a ministry that by its evangelizing nature should always be innovative and changing.
Faced with rapid and ever-growing numbers of immigrants in our communities, we bishops and priests find ourselves forced to examine our established means of service and discern with openness where that divine wind of love wishes to take us. The hundreds of young people confirmed in our parish communities this year are without a doubt being filled with that holy energy that calls them to be missionary-disciples in our homes, cities and beyond.
For us, the believers, liturgy is life. The feast of Pentecost is more than just a nice memorial of an event that happened in the past. On the contrary, every year it is the moment when our united hearts cry out, “Here I am, Lord. Send me!”
Through us, the love of God wants to inject an infusion of joyful hope in a world that seems to surrender when faced with discouragement and indifference. God wants us to forge paths of justice, purity, transparency in every part of our lives and in the world, even in places where those paths do not yet exist or where there are wakes upon the sea.
May Mary, that young girl from Nazareth be our model in that daring adventure of the Spirit, so that we may continue to surprise the world.
Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.Website: www.seattlearchdiocese.org/Archdiocese/auxiliaries.aspx