Friday, 5/12/17 – Stay On Track

Some of you may remember that in one of my first posts I mentioned that one of my passions is riding motorcycles off-road. No, not OFF THE ROAD….that would be a problem and would have a whole different outcome. What I am referring to is the type of riding where you ride through the woods and follow various trails, hoping to reach a destination. Often the trails cross and there are several going in multiple directions. But you have to stay on the one that will get you to where you want to go.

How do you do this without getting lost? GPS of course! Most of you are familiar with the type of GPS that is in your car where you just plug-in a destination and let the GPS system take you there based on its decision of how best to go. When riding off-road, however, we usually follow a predetermined path that someone has found to be interesting. We want to remain on this course.

These paths can be in the form of what is called a “route” or a “track”. What is the difference? Well a route can initially give you the desired path, but if you get off that path, the GPS will come up with its own route that IT thinks you should go. It may take you somewhere that you really had no intention of going. A track? Well, think of a track as a snapshot of the desired path. It is a mapped out path of exactly where you intended to go from beginning to the desired destination. If you get off the track, well you have to find a way back. You might have to zoom out a bit to see where the track lies, but the track never deviates, never leaves the path to the desired destination. It never wavers. You can count on it. You just have to find the path back to the track. The farther away off the track you get the harder this is since there are so many paths you can take back to the desired track. The sooner you find the error that got you lost in the first place, the easier it is to get “back on track”.

In today’s reading Jesus tells us that he is the track that leads along the path to the destination that is His Father. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. Jesus’ message, and the Church’s message, does not vary. It does not change. Even if we get off the track, it remains right there where it always has been for over 2000 years for us to find. What message? We have that in today’s first reading from Acts. Paul tells the Jews at the synagogue of Antioch that Jesus was raised by the Father from the dead. And in the two commandments that Jesus told us were the greatest. To love the Father and love each other as the Father has loved us.

But how we do get off track in our lives? Lose sight of where we are going? How do we end up following a changeable route instead of the never changing track. Problems of the world (illness, financial concerns, relationship issues), as well as worldly pursuits that get in the way of our relationship with God, can take precedence of our path to God. Before you know it, the evil one has altered our path so it is now unrecognizable from where we were originally headed. Thomas from today’s Gospel tells Jesus that he does not know the way that Jesus is going. Phillip, later in the chapter, asks Jesus to show him the Father. Really?! This has got to be another moment where Jesus must have slapped his forehead in disbelief. He asks Phillip, “….you still do not know me?” If the apostles have a hard time seeing the correct path, and they have the ultimate guide, how easy must it be for us to lose our way?

How do we get back on track? First of all Jesus says to us to not be troubled. Have faith. He says to us that he has not left us as orphans (v. 18 of Chapter 14), that he will send his Advocate. The Holy Spirit. The Spirit will help guide us back to the track. Listen to the Spirit through prayer, through study and through action. For those of you who have gone through the Cursillo ministry will recognize these three legs of the stool of faith (Prayer, Study and Action).

There are also the tools Jesus has given us through his Church…The Sacraments. Communion binds us to Jesus through his body and blood. Penance removes the obstacles of sin that keep us from seeing the path back to the track of life that leads to heaven. The community of our parish can support us in our journey, keeping our eyes focused on the prize. Acting as the guard rails along the track so that we are less likely to wander off.

My wife, Elise, and I leave later this month to hike 500 miles along the Camino de Santiago. We are walking from the town of St. Jean Pied de Port in France, across the Pyrenees and through northern Spain to the town of Santiago de Compostela. The goal is the cathedral in Santiago that is said to house the relics of St. James. The path along the way is well-marked but there are places where you can get distracted and wander off the path. There actually was a woman last year who tragically was led off the path where someone attacked and murdered her. A serious result of getting off the track.

So, what do we do as we prepare to head out on our track to our eternal home? How do we start? We simply follow Jesus’ words from v. 31 of Chapter 14…. “Get up, let us go”.

Readings:

ACTS 13:26-33

PS 2:6-7, 8-9, 10-11AB

JN 14:1-6

About the Author

Hello! My name is John Ciribassi. I live in Carol Stream, IL in the USA. My wife Elise and I are parishioners at Corpus Christ Catholic Church. We have two adult daughters. One lives in Washington DC and the other attends Cornell University in New York state. My wife and I are both veterinarians, and my specialty is in animal behavior. I attended college and veterinary school in Illinois, where I met my wife who is from the Chicago area, and the rest is history! My hobbies include Racquetball, Off Road Motorcycle Riding, Hiking and Camping. I have never written reflections before and look forward to the opportunity to offer what little insight I have on the scriptures. But I have always felt that the scriptures can speak for themselves. My job is just to shine a little light on them for people who maybe don't have the time to look into the readings deeply. I hope you enjoy and find value in my writings. I certainly am grateful for the opportunity.

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7 Comments

  1. Hi John

    Thank you for your commentary. Yes Jesus must have got very frustrated at times with the group of disciples he was given to work with, but then they certainly must have been filled with the Holy Spirit. 2000 years later we are yet believers, thanks to the work of the early disciples.

    I wish you and your wife a joyful and safe journey on the Camino walk. I am hoping to do it next year on the coastal route from Portugal, so would be nice to hear from you about how the walk went for you both.

    Gods Blessings be with you both

    Sonali

  2. Great to hear reflection from your personal life. All the best for your trip. I also will be making strip to similar route as a pilgrim along with some Catholics from LA

  3. Yes John, I have wandered far away from home and only One to lead me home is the One who knows to road – Jesus.
    Thanks John.

  4. Thanks John for your wonderful reflection based on your live
    I hope we as Christians will follow the right track in our day to day lives so that we may not loose the sight of Jesus our path to the Father
    May you and your wife have a good time in your camping.

  5. Very nice light on the gospel reflection. I’ve been lost and off track many times with many other souls. When I’m done doing what I want instead of what I should/ afterward I come to myself again and turn on my GPS and have to find my way back Gods way. My GPS is Gods Plan for Salvation. Once that turns on and I get my updates, gradually things start working again.

  6. Thank you, John. Excellent reflection! The imagery you used with the ‘right bike path’ being Jesus and the Truth really shows us how we all stray.

  7. Thank you John for such a great reflection. I too have strayed off track a couple of times and the moment I switch on my GPS, through prayer, I head back on track. I recently strayed off course so badly due to financial problems and relationship issues. This time around, I have made a promise to myself not to turn that GPS off. Only through prayer and a close relationship to God do we stay on track and enter heaven.. God is always watching over us, but we too need to find time for him to stay on track.. Thanks once more and all the best in your camping trip with your wife..

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