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Becoming more like Christ is the destination of the All Things New pilgrimage

Like Jesus, we can be resolute in facing our destination, but attentive to the encounters we have along the way

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Have you even been on a pilgrimage?

When we go on a pilgrimage — to the Holy Land or to Rome, to Lourdes in France or the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, to the “old country” (wherever our ancestors came from) or even locally to the shrine of a saint — three things stand out. First, obviously, is our destination! The destination provides the occasion for everything else. But the second thing is who we share the journey with, and the third is what happens along the way. Very often the memories we form and the stories we tell, are just as much about the second and third as they are about the first.

It’s helpful to pause, notice that, and ask what the Lord might be teaching us through that fact.

Jesus had a journey to make. In some ways, we might say that His whole life was “the pilgrimage of the God-man on earth.” But, to take just one slice of that, consider the Gospel of Luke. Much of it is taken up with “the travel narrative.” Jesus sets His face toward Jerusalem in chapter 9, then His journey to Jerusalem takes from chapter 9 until chapter 19.

Here are two important characteristics of both Jesus’ earthly pilgrimage in general and His pilgrimage to Jerusalem in particular: He was resolute and He was vulnerable.

He was resolute, in this sense: No matter what was happening, He continued to press on toward His destination. He never lost focus.

At the same time, He was vulnerable. He was affected by the people and things He encountered on the way. His resolution didn’t make Him inattentive to what happened along the way. Instead, it lent depth to those encounters.

I think it might be helpful to think of All Things New as a pilgrimage. We, as an archdiocese, are on a pilgrimage together. The lessons and characteristics I’ve mentioned above apply to this pilgrimage as well.

First, there’s a destination. As with every other pilgrimage, we will get there! This coming Pentecost, the new footprint for our parishes will be unveiled.

But who we travel with and what happens as we travel together aren’t beside the point. Quite the contrary: Much of the point of our pilgrimage is contained in them! The character that’s being formed in us as a community will be important long after the destination is reached. That character isn’t shaped solely by getting to the end point. It’s significantly shaped by how we interact with each other and how we handle the surprises that meet us along the way. Those will be the stories we tell about our pilgrimage when it’s over.

Let’s ask Jesus to shape the pilgrimage of All Things New: To make us resolute in setting our faces toward our destination, and to make us attentive to the encounters we have along the way. If we do those two things then our pilgrimage will make us more like Christ, and that, in the end, is the ultimate destination of this journey.

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