The Journey 362
Read: Luke 2: 41-52
One of the hallmarks today in the life of many individuals is the journey to religious places. Christians all over the world plan the holy land tours and there are people including clergy and pastors who has taken upon themselves of arranging holy land tour as a part of their vocation. People of every religion wants to undertake a pilgrimage journey where they visit sites that has significance to their religious beliefs. The news agency Huffington Post has released a list of places that people love to visit as a part of their spiritual pilgrimage throughout the world. The places are the following. The visit to the Ganges in India is the first on the list. It is believed that about 20 million people vast the Ganges river, as they consider that this river represents life, purity and goodness. The second pilgrimage site is Mecca, where approximately about 13 million Muslims visit as a part of the spiritual pilgrimage. The third pilgrimage site is the Golden Temple in India, where on an average about fifty thousand people visit every day, and this temple is the holy place of the people of Sikh faith. Next on the list is Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico city, which is considered as the most popular Marian shrine in the world and where about 10 million people visit every year. The Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu and Kashmir in India is next on the list where over 8 million people visit this religious site every year. The Lourdes in France is next on the list and this is the place where Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary's ascent to heaven. Next on the pilgrimage list is the Bahai Gardens in Northern Israel where about half a million people visit. The next on the list is the Vatican, the holy place for the Catholics, with its various monuments to various saints and place of the Pope, all circled around and a place where about 4.2 million people visit every year. Jerusalem is next on the list, as this is an important place for the Jews, Christians and the Muslims. The birth place of Jesus Christ, the city of Bethlehem is next popular pilgrimage place on the list where about 1.4 million people visit this city and its surrounding historical sites. Machu Picchu a mountain top in Italy is the next site that people visit more frequently. Machu Piccchu is an Incan pilgrimage site and a large number of people come to spend time in this picturesque mountain top. Next on the pilgrimage site is Rumi's tomb in Konya, Turkey. About 2 million people visit this site which is the place of the tomb of Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi. The Bodi tree is the another famous pilgrimage site where about 1 million people visit this site, the place where Buddha meditated for 49 days before he attained enlightenment. The next and the last important site is Stonehenge in southern England, a site that consists of mysterious circle of upright stones. Thus people of all religion or of no religious belief undertake a journey of pilgrimage, but the question that one needs to ask is how does this visit whether a pilgrimage which could be just casual or holiday have an impact on our Christian life. Does these visit bring about change and transformation or is these visit more of a holiday or is it just blind following of certain religious traditions of faith.
Any journey that an individual undertakes in relations to getting to know the roots of one's faith should help us to have new perspective about our faith living and only then can we consider these types of journey faith-fully significant. Even Jesus undertook a journey of pilgrimage. This journey is found in Luke 2: 41-52 and this is the portion that we shall meditate today in our devotional journey "Transformed Living". One of the hallmarks of this passage is that Jesus is going to temple along with his parents in his young age to celebrate the festival of Passover. There are lots of requirements that each Jewish family has to do when they undertake this annual pilgrimage to the temple of Jerusalem and I believe both Joseph and Mary might have communicated to Jesus the various requirement of the Mosaic laws. One of the most unique aspect of the journey of Jesus to the temple was that He uses this journey of pilgrimage to engage in dialogue with teachers of the law and we find in Lk 2: 46, that he was sitting among the teachers of the law, listening to them and asking them questions. Here is Jesus Christ unmindful of things happening around and discussing seriously his faith issues with teachers of the law. We need to remember that at this time, his parents had already left the temple and had started their return journey. Jesus it seems was so engrossed in his discussion with the teachers of the law that he seems to have forgotten that he was supposed to be in the close company of his parents. That is why when Mary returns in search of the missing Jesus, and finds him discussing with the teachers of the law, she is upset and she ask Jesus as to why He did this to them, as to why He treated them like this, because they were so worried about him. That is when Jesus gives the most astounding reply "Don't you know that I should be in my Father's house"?. Jesus with this reply tells his mother that his pilgrimage is all about helping him with his vision and ministry that He has to do in his Father's vineyard. The annual journey to Jerusalem bring in the life of Jesus, a vision for his future ministry and thus He is able to prepare himself to work in the ministry that God the Father had prepared for Him. Until and unless we are renewed in life and has a new vision for our ministry, all journey whether to the church or to the religious places has no significance. Let us pray that God will always equip us with his vision whenever we undertake a faith journey.
Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla