It is mentioned in the introduction for this evening’s liturgy, the theme that ties the three readings together is Journey. In the first reading, people are journeying back to Jerusalem, having been in exile for probably four hundred years, and so God is bringing them back to their center, and that was critical for the people, because in their years in exile they felt lost. They were missing their root, their connection to God, and that was in the physical place of Jerusalem. And so God restores them to Jerusalem, and when they do come back, there is a great ceremony that takes place where the people are once again united with God in a renewal of the Covenant. Jerusalem becomes the base, the center for their living.
In the second reading, St. Paul is reflecting in the book, in the letter that he writes to the Galatians. Paul is really reflecting on the journey of his life, how he came to know Jesus and how that literally changed everything for him, how he became aware of God’s new creation that has come about through the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
And in the Gospel, you see Jesus sending the disciples out. He sends the 72 on Journey. Journey is something that again we don’t give much thought to, in the sense that, oh yeah we make journeys, people are coming home from their journeys tonight and having gone somewhere for the Fourth of July, or maybe you’re going to go on another journey during the summer, but we think of journeys as kind of a beginning and an end. We have this particular place that we want to go. But when you look at the Scripture, and particularly the Gospel of Luke, it becomes very clear that journey is used in a very different way, or in a sense, it’s the Journey of a life, that Luke is presenting the Journey of Jesus’s life, which then leads to the new creation.
Now, when you think of that again, we think of our own life. When did our journey begin? Ever think about that? When did our journey begin? Anybody have any idea when their Journey began? You are all mystified by it. Your journey began probably the day you were conceived. We know that now from science, because science tells us that even the infant, the child in the womb of the mother, is actually taking in information. From what you young parents know that when you were going through that process in your life, the doctors might have told you, play music for the child, play music, because the child can absorb, absorb the calm. But also, the child can absorb the anxiety. So that’s a very critical phase.
So the journey begins there and then progresses, progresses through infancy, through those formative years going up to about 5, and then progresses beyond that, with experiences in school. There was a point which I was administrator of a school, and we used to meet with parents, and one of the things I would always say to them, because we did an in-depth analysis when the child was in the fourth grade. What’s the big deal about the fourth grade? Well, what science tells us is that if a child has had a bad experience in those early years, by the fourth grade that child is turned off of school. So you want to be very focused about that part of the journey.
And again the journey goes on and goes on and goes on, for some it’s a long journey, for some it’s a short journey, and as with everything it has its ups and its downs, just as Paul says in his letter to the Galatians. But the important thing, and you go back to the first reading, the important thing is that the journey has to have a focus. For the people of Israel the focus was Jerusalem. They had to be reconnected to that central reality which convinced them that the journey would be safe, because they were connected with God.
For us in our day, we can say that what sustains our journey – the center of our journey – is the Eucharist, because it’s the way that the Lord, in a sense, unites with us in the daily events of our life. You never walk alone, just as Jesus says to the disciples when he sends them out. They’re not going out alone – they’re going out 2 by 2, but more importantly, they’re going with the Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus who sends them out and what they’re focused on is the message of the Kingdom. Their journey is an extension of the action of Jesus, and that then becomes the root for their journey. He becomes in a sense not only the root, but the source of the strength for their journey.
And it’s the same with us today. We come each week to the Eucharist, sometimes we come more frequently, but the basis of our coming to the Eucharist is because we know, we know we’re on a journey. We know that we are moving forward with our lives, and we need again to know that we are moving forward with the Lord. We need to know that we have His presence with us as we go forward, because that will give us the strength we need, that will give us the courage we need, to carry out the work of the Lord, which is to continue to be proclaimers of the kingdom of God. We pray each time we come to the table of the Lord, the Lord gives us His presence in order that we might be successful in our journey.