We are Pilgrims on a Journey
“We are pilgrims on a journey, We are travelers on the road, We are here to help each other, Walk the mile and bear the load.”The Servant Song, by Richard Gillard ©1977 Scripture in Song. Used by permission. CCLI License #1092004
Spiritual pilgrimages are never taken alone. Even “solitary” pilgrimages are built on the backs of all previous pilgrims and their insights and accomplishments. For example, when St. Ignatius Loyola took his solo trek from Spain to Jerusalem, as was mentioned in the introduction, he stopped numerous times along the way to learn from the elders in the cities and cathedrals of Europe. He knew to make the pilgrimage because of what he had learned from others who had preceded him on the journey. We know that a Lenten pilgrimage has potential benefits for us personally and for the Church as a whole because there are those who have made this pilgrimage before and who have left a legacy for us. And we can learn from our predecessor’s mistakes and triumphs. We are pilgrims on a journey. We are also here “to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.”
St. Paul tells us in Galatians 6:2 that we are to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” We are in this journey together. We are one Body in Christ. We are each in a unique place, with a unique calling, but that calling is given to us for the common good. As St. Paul reminds us in his first letter to the Corinthians, each one of us is essential to the whole. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (12:27).
The Jewish pilgrims, the returning exiles who wrote the Songs of Ascent, would have known this truth from the writings of the scriptural wisdom literature. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, the preacher wrote: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
As we make our way through this Lenten pilgrimage, as we seek the New Jerusalem, let us do it together. You may read these meditations alone, but do not neglect to talk to others in the parish about what the Lord is saying to you in them. In the epistle to the Hebrews (10:24-25) we are reminded that we need to make this journey together. The author says, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
“We are pilgrims on a journey…we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.”