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.
One of the things I love about Jesus A Pilgrimage is how Father Martin takes the iconic and makes it commonplace. At first this idea may border on the sacrilege but in reality it makes these things relatable. Case in point: his comments at the beginning of Chapter 2 about getting lost while driving towards Nazareth. He writes:
“I was constantly surprised how the storied names of biblical locales popped up in the most familiar of circumstances; on a simple map, on a graffitied street sign, or in everyday conversations. ‘The traffic to Bethlehem was terrible last night!’ said a Jesuit over dinner on night. Which still didn’t beat ‘Gehenna is lovely.’”
Upon reaching the Sea of Galilee Fr, Martin revels in the sight of the sea and the surrounding countryside knowing that Jesus had seen this same sight.
Capernaum, the Mount of the Beatitudes: the sense of his excitement was palpable. Ultimately he and companion George reached their destination: Nazareth. The place where one young woman’s “yes” changed the world.
This was my favorite part of the chapter. We are told in the scriptures that we do not choose God; God chooses us. Fr. Martin asks why we feel feelings of longing, gratitude or wonder (pg. 40, ebook) and he concludes, “This is God beginning a conversation.” He is reaching out to us, He is inviting us.
How do we feel? Grateful, fearful? “Thinking about the Creator of the Universe entering into the ‘particularity’ of our lives can be terrifying.” (ibid) Father Martin describes that feeling when he receives a sudden answer to a problem or an insight knowing these things did not originate within him.
Another thing feeds our fear: our honest assessment that we are not worthy. We may think, “Jesus couldn’t have chosen a more unlikely candidate for this job!”
But if you are in a vibrant, growing relationship with God then you know that the very absurdity of the request can confirm that it is in fact from God. I’m guessing that as Mary grew more comfortable with the idea of her bearing the Messiah that she understood this seeming contraction.
I could go on and on about this chapter but I leave that to you!
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
- If you had a chance to stand where Jesus stood and gaze at the same scenery He saw, how would you feel?
- How do you know when God is asking you to do something? Do you feel afraid? Excited? Unworthy? All of the above?
- How does your recollection of past blessings help you to trust God now?
- Is there a “yes” in your life that has transformed you?
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 3: Bethlehem. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Jesus Book Club page.
Copyright 2014 Susan W. Bailey