The first reading for mass today is all about travel. The disciples traveled to Lystra, Iconium, Antioch, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, and Attalia. It makes you tired just thinking about it, especially since the disciples did not have the modern means of travel that we do.It surely must have been an uncomfortable journey to travel by foot, or on a camel or donkey for long distances. They must have had many aches and pains, minor health ailments, thirst, hunger and fatigue during their travels. The disciples were not always welcomed at their destinations either and were often persecuted for their faith. Even though the journeys they went on must have been tiring and uncomfortable, the disciples didn’t seem to mind it. They loved sharing their faith with everyone they met. The disciples especially seemed to enjoy the companionship they found with one another and the new Christian believers too.
It seems they did not miss their home or care where they laid their head for the night, because their joy was grounded in the Lord and with his people. Wherever the disciples traveled, the strangers they met became friends. A new family of brothers and sisters in Christ was formed, because of the love they had for Jesus and for one another. The Holy Spirit was with them wherever they went.
In today’s gospel though, Jesus told his disciples “I am with you only a little longer” and that “Where I am going, you cannot come.” The Lord was preparing to die and enter his Father’s Kingdom, but it was not time for his disciples to follow him, not yet anyway. Jesus tells us that “the son of Man has been glorified and God has been glorified in him.” Jesus was going to his eternal glory, but he had one last bit of instruction for his disciples. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This should be enough motivation for us to set aside what ever differences or hurt feelings that we have, both within our families and the church community as well and seek common ground. Do we really want to let petty disagreements or different points of view cause us to lose sight of the big picture? People seem to fuss and argue over the smallest things in our families. Even in the church, our own parishioners seem to always have a different point of view from each other. Everyone has their own opinion on the right way of doing things. These things divide us, not unite us. It’s easy for the devil to divide and conquer all of us if we aren’t paying close attention to what he is doing.
Jesus was mostly concerned that we stick together and take care of one another though. Perhaps he wanted his disciples, including us, to spend time together and support each other because the world can be a pretty harsh place at times. Jesus knew that we would need each other. The bonds of love and friendship would help insulate us from the unpredictable turn of events that life can throw at us sometimes. This is true for all of us, because we never know when we might lose a spouse, a child, a parent, our best friend or become terminally ill ourselves. Natural disasters, house fires, job loss and divorce can make some of us feel that life is spinning out of control, but it really isn’t. Jesus is still with us through it all and so are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The second reading today says that “God himself will be with them, he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more, mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”
One day we will arrive at our new home. Our lives right now are just a temporary journey toward our Father’s Kingdom. Our true home is in heaven with God, our Father. The second reading today says “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them, they will be his peoples and God himself will be with them.”Our new home will be a holy city that God himself prepared for us and has made as beautiful as a new bride on the day of her wedding. The Lord Jesus is the bridegroom of the church and he waits for us there, in our new home.We are all travelers on the same journey. Let us support one another as the body of Christ, and journey together through love, and in unity and peace until we reach our Father’s Kingdom.