One of the greatest pleasures we take in life is “getting away”. We leave our life behind for a few days and enjoy the company of another person, some quiet, relaxation, and hopefully we take some time to reorient our lives to God.
In all of our biblical history we have people going on pilgrimage. Moses climbs the mountain, The Jews would make pilgrimage to the temple to offer sacrifice. We have the great pilgrimage of the Exodus. And even today we take time to visit a holy site to encounter God, to set time aside for Him, and sometimes we experience our own conversion of heart.
The honeymoon is a married couple’s first pilgrimage together. Think about it. They leave the “single” life behind, escape the world for a little while and spend time with their spouse. After offering each other the love they have, and pledging their vows to each other, they offer their very selves to their beloved. We should be reminded of the words of Jesus, that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. remember what Jesus did during the last supper? He offered them His life by saying “take this… this is my body… this is my blood”. The bond of marriage enables us to experience God in a new way because they say that to each other on the day of their marriage in the form of the “I do” and they consummate that love by their life together. Much like Christ did on the cross (and doesn’t marriage come with it’s own little cross?). They encounter God in a new way, and hopefully use their time of escape from their ordinary lives to find God in their relationship. They offer their marriage to God and ask Him to guide them. When they return to their ordinary life, they are different, because they return not as two, but one (Gen 2:24).
I’m reminded of a friend who was married a few years ago. Before their marriage he and his wife decided that they would not live together. They lived with their parents, bought their own home, but waited until after the honeymoon to occupy it. When they came home for the first time, they went to their new home together, and their life was completely altered. Their life began anew, and I remember how wonderful that was!
Did you ever think that we are on pilgrimage? Well, every time we go to Mass we are on pilgrimage. We leave the world behind, our friends, our conversation, our gossip, our jobs, and we go to Church. The Mass is an encounter with God Himself, Jesus Christ the God-man.
We remember (anamnesis) the offering of Christ on the cross and receive the gift of redemption that was wrought by His sacrifice. Jesus says, “take this… this is my body… this is my blood”. We receive the sacrament of His presence within us. We meet the bridegroom come down from heaven and celebrate the wedding feast of the Lamb offered in heaven. We are lifted out of the world to the heavenly kingdom where the eternal mystery is forever being made present, once, and for all time! Then, we are transformed by the love that was given us in Christ, so we should return to the world, renewed, refreshed, and forever changed by the gift of life we have received.
These next couple of weeks we celebrate the great pilgrimage of our Lord, “though He was in the form of God did not deem equality with God… rather He emptied Himself and took the form of a slave… and became obedient to death… on the cross”(Phil 2:6-11). Holy week is a time of pilgrimage for us as we walk with Jesus through His Passion. The liturgies in these next couple of weeks must be a time for us to journey with our Lord to experience the cross, and the love that was given to us by His suffering on it, so that we may experience his Resurrection.
God Bless you!