Sunday, July 19, 2015
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
The metaphor of ‘the journey’ appears in literature (like the patriarchs in the book of Genesis, Homer’s Odyssey, and thousands more); ‘the journey’ appears in technology (all the motorcar adverts, and the Google car/ automated driving coming up); ‘the journey’ appears in psychology; it appears in architecture in walkways and aisles; and ‘the journey’ appears in the history of faith and religion also (e.g. the Gospel of Luke and Acts).
On a journey there is a point of departure, there is the journey itself, and there is a destination or a place of arrival. On a journey (on the walk, the ship, the train, in the airplane, in the hospital or prison) we meet people and situations that are quite different from our normal lives: people and situations that change us.
The gospel reading opens with a journey across the Sea of Galilee. The journey with Christ is similar to other journeys in some ways, and distinct or different in some ways. A couple of distinctions: Some journeys (e.g. the ‘Vision Quest’) are taken alone. Yet, the journey with Christ is always in the company of other people who are closely bound up with each other and equal to each other, and are spread through time and space. Then, in the journey with Christ, the destination is not in this life, not in death, but the Christian Hope and Expectation is in eternal life in God’s presence.
Just as we see reflected in Psalm 23, on this gospel journey Jesus is concerned to restore and heal the disciples, and then the crowd of 5000 too. The divine shepherd guides us — individual and community of faith — all the way through our lives, through the valley of the shadow of death, and into the Messianic Banquet of eternal life. That idea of restoration at the community level appears in the first reading from Jeremiah 23:1-6. In Jeremiah, God promises that one day in the future there will no longer be corrupt human leadership, but there will be be a divine ruler of God’s people and there will be justice and peace.
When Jesus meets the people at the sea shore he feeds them in the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. That hearkens back to the feeding of the children of Israel on their journey through the wilderness. It looks forward to the Christian Eucharist that we celebrate this morning; and it looks forward to the Messianic feast at the end of life and the end of time.
As from the beginning, surely God is always with us as we journey through our lives. But there are times I have not looked towards God, and there are times that I have looked towards God.
On my journey, when I have not looked towards God there are things that I regret. When we break the Ten Commandments there is pain that arises. Persons involved in racketeering or violence and their consequences, like Bernie Madoff and Whitey Bulger, now regret about their actions. On July 22 we remember Mary Magdalene. There were parts of her life and journey she regretted; yet in turning to deeply love and follow Jesus, she became a person in whom we rejoice and give thanks.
On my journey, when I have looked towards God, I can see and give thanks for the way that God has acted in my own life, so often healing, restoring, guiding, and bringing fruit that endures.
Like baby Zarah whom we dedicate today, like Noah and Pam leaving for Florida today, we are all on a journey. Surely God is always nearby. Yet, during our journey, do we look towards the God who is with us, or do we look away?
When we look towards God, our journey like the journey of the children of Israel is going to show the shape of God’s actions in our own history. In this week and the journey we take, let us look towards God’s presence, God’s restoration and healing, and God’s guidance.