Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you, and that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
“Life is a journey, not a destination” the popular mantra says. This mantra is widespread and even provides a lens to look through while contemplating the journey of faith. However, today’s reading provides a very different lens. It talks of starting points as new followers join in the journey, and openly discusses that some people are travelling on entirely different paths altogether. Elsewhere Paul talks of finishing lines and completion of the earthly journey of faith (2 Tim 4.7).
The Catholic writer Alfonso M. Nebreda* expands the concept of the spiritual journey further. Nebreda reminds us that we should give serious consideration to the ground leading towards the starting blocks. If the start-line is the point where someone begins their spiritual journey with Jesus, it is our task as disciples to help sojourners to travel to the startline unhindered. This will mean journeying alongside them in grace and wisdom.
Today’s Bible reading talks honestly about the risks of the road, for this is not a benign journey. This journey often goes against the flow of the traffic; there will be debris on the road ahead which can be corrosive to the journey of faith. We need to be mindful of these. But we can also be of good courage, because Jesus travels alongside us.
(* “Kerygma in Crisis?” by Alfonsa M. Nebrada, Loyota University Press (1965), reprinted 2019.)
Lord Jesus Christ, In my journeying with you, may I never lose my sense of direction, never lose sight of the landmark towards which I travel. And should cloud or rain obscure my vision, may I draw closer to you, so that my feet may tread in your footsteps, your words be my encouragement, and your love my protection against the storms that assail me. Amen.
The Rev’d Daniel Harris, minister with the Rochdale, Bury and North Manchester Missional Partnership.