Chapter 1: Pilgrims {Jesus: A Pilgrimage}

Welcome to our virtual book club! We’re reading Fr. James Martin’s bestseller, Jesus: A Pilgrimage. Each week we will tackle a chapter and look forward to a lively discussion together.

Jesus book conversation

I never wanted to go to the Holy Land. In fact, until I became Catholic in 2001, I never really wanted to travel outside the United States, much less be a pilgrim.

So it was with great interest at the beginning of this book, which at the beginning I considered rather monolithic in length (avid reader though I am), that I read that Fr. Martin didn’t really want to go to the Holy Land either.

He was convinced by a number of reasons and circumstances, and this chapter really made me consider the doubts I too entertain about the Holy Land (they’re different than his and stem mostly from the fact that I just never really cared to go).

This first chapter, the story of how Fr. Martin got to the Holy Land, was a great introduction to what is, in retrospect, but a short glimpse and a story I wish would have kept going. (Or is it just me?)

I’ve never been a pilgrim, so I couldn’t resist, in preparing to write this post and reflect on this first chapter, to look up just what a pilgrim is by definition. According to Google, a pilgrim is “a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.”

But I think there’s more to it than that simple phrase. And sure enough, when I searched more, I found this compelling insight from Catholicism.org:

The word “pilgrim,” derived from the Latin peregrinum,conveys the idea of wandering over a distance, but it is not just aimless wandering. It is a journey with a purpose, and that purpose is to honor God.

Fr. Martin’s setting the stage in this chapter. He’s preparing us, because though we are not physically with him and may never actually see the sights of the Holy Land in person, we are journeying with him. We are not aimlessly wandering through this book.

Our purpose? To meet Jesus. To get to know him better. To use Fr. Martin’s descriptions and stories to unpack our minds and free us to embrace our Savior a little better, a little deeper, a little more.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. Did you relate with any of Fr. Martin’s doubts and objections to visiting the Holy Land? Have you ever desired to visit the Holy Land? Why or why not?
  2. When have you been a pilgrim, on a journey to honor God? How might you make reading this book over the course of this book club conversation more intentionally a pilgrimage and a way to meet God?
  3. What was your favorite part of this chapter? What made you stop and go “oh!” or reflect more deeply on your faith journey?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 2: Yes. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Jesus Book Club page.

Copyright 2014 Sarah Reinhard

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