Memorial of St. John Neumann

January 5, 2017 / By: Sarah Farnes

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael to follow Him. That made me wonder, where did Jesus want them to follow Him? As I reflected on this call, I realized that it is a call for everybody, including me, today.  But where does He want me to go in 2017? A phrase from a French saint, Benedict Joseph Labre, came to my mind as a response for all my questions: “in this world we are all pilgrims toward paradise.” 

A pilgrim is a person who would leave his home, family, and comfort in order to walk with nothing but what he could carry on his back; he has a starting point and an end point which is a sacred place.  All of this in order to venerate or to ask heavenly aid, and ultimately to know God better. A pilgrim would suffer during his journey with hunger, pain, exhaustion, extreme weather conditions… but all that does not matter, what matters is the distant goal. His experience can be fantastic and deeply meaningful, or it can be completely meaningless. It is all up to him. Extra graces are given to him who opens his heart to God. A pilgrim is called to be a witness for Christ on his journey. As a Christian and foreign visitor, a pilgrim is an ambassador for Christ and the nation of his citizenship.

Hence, do I believe that God is calling me? Calling me to exist? To be?  Is He calling me to be with Him, to share His glory? Is He calling me to leave everything temporal, which might be very comfortable at the moment, in order to grasp the Eternal? Am I seeking the only Truth, which is sometimes very demanding and painful? Do I trust Him? How am I experiencing God in my life? Am I opening my heart to the Grace of God? Am I being an instrument for God, or am I resisting Him? Am I witnessing Christ? Am I adopting the concept of God, which is love, in my life? Am I being a good ambassador for Christ?

All these questions came to my mind after I had contemplated that sentence, and I was fascinated to notice that most of the time I’m not aware that I’ve lost my way, I’ve lost the compass.

A pilgrim holds on his back only what is necessary for his journey. what are the necessary things I should keep with me? They are love toward God and neighbour, the Word of God, the Holy Communion and the sacraments, the teaching of the Church and the experience of the Saints.  

Sarah Farnes, Program Manager, Office for Spirituality