Nothing stays the same, everything changes. Our society is changing. We can currently see that in the Corona crisis, it is changing our lives forever. The church is also changing; believers can feel this up close, e.g. through the current restrictions of church life, when we have to stay at home and try to practice our faith there. It could be that we realise how much our feelings have changed, our sensitivity regarding the once so attractive and peaceful image of the “house” that Jesus uses in today’s Gospel. My house, my home, is normally a beautiful symbol of peaceful security, warmth, trust, well-being, and comfort, but instinctively I noticed that at this moment I prefer the other image that Jesus also offers in today’s Gospel. I do not mean to say that I suffer from claustrophobia and that I can no longer stand my own “four walls” but maybe you will feel the same these days: the longing to be on the way again…
I have the impression that the current crisis will also challenge us to change our travel behaviour significantly. Perhaps many are already asking: is it really necessary to travel around the world regularly to visit exotic and sensational travel destinations again and again? The current lockdown has taught me how valuable a piece of garden behind my house and a walk in the next fields are. Our nearby environment, our country, offers us countless surprises and I don’t mean that we should give up our joy of travelling, or that we can’t visit another country every now and then. I think we only should reconsider the distances and the frequency.
Many people like to be on the way: travellers, hikers, pilgrims. It is not the distance covered that is the most important, not the speed, but simply being on the way. “The way is the goal” says a beautiful old proverb. It takes a lot of courage to set off and leave home. It means to let go for a time home, family, friends and loved things and to dare new things. To be on the way means perceiving something new, tackling it, enjoying it and expanding one’s own perspective.
I am fascinated by the people who cover very long distances on foot. People who leave their everyday lives and travel. They leave their trade and mate, their bread, their jobs, their farm, their families. They trust God’s company for the way, have no protection and mostly little money for the long journey. These hikers go against the trend: they go slowly while the majority of other people want always want to go more and more quickly, reaching ever newer, more remote and more exotic destinations. The hikers go through beautiful but also through barren, tiring landscapes. They not only look for the highlights of a region, but they follow the way as it is, with all its ups and downs.
Being on the road after spending so much time in everyday life can help to free you from everyday worries and concentrate on the essentials. Walking, being on the way, can help someone to slow down the course of life and so control the stress. “Festina lente!” (“Make haste slowly.”, “Hurry slowly”) is a famous Latin proverb. The slowness of being on the way leads to deepening. Deepening leads down to the roots, to the most important things of our life.
“I am the way,” says Jesus, the way to God. Being on the way also helps us to meditate and discover the voice of God in our life, and Jesus wants to accompany us on our earthly way and lead us carefully into a good future, into the heavenly House.