Did you cry o Lord as you left your home?
When you left your father and mother behind?
Your job, your community?
When you went to the north and taught?
You were not going to be accepted or liked…
Perhaps you knew… but you had to go.
Did you cry then?
Or in the south?
You began a journey in which
Your friends would leave you.
Did you cry then?
And on that final voyage to Jerusalem
You spent your life knowing you must make the journey
You surrendered completely.
But as you left everything that was known, everything that was comfortable, everything that was safe
Did you cry? Because I cry now.
A man just came up to me and said "May God go with you… and he handed me $250. "We appreciate all you have done for us. Be safe and my you be blessed" How can I not be overwhelmed?
I start this pilgrimage as I read in the news that Muslims are just finishing the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. We follow a tradition that is ancient to us all. A man named Abraham – which means father- was called to go forth to a land where God would led him. He was to leave everything behind.
That is what it is about, leaving everything behind. It comes from a fantastic impulse to not be defined or confined by the mundane constructions of reality that we generate. I am not my job. I am not my condominium. I am not my car, my bank account, my computers, my education. Yet these things become so ingrained as the measure of what it means to be alive that they confine and define us. To be released from these shackles, one must follow the eternal illusive one, the one who has no name, and so for our sake, we call him many, just to give us a clue as to what we speak about. God. Surrender everything over to God and live as on a journey.
Today I celebrated Mass with a group of people living in Chicago many of whom I know and have gone to Mass with many times before. They celebrated a feast for the appearance of Mary in their homeland. "Virgen de Nube – Our Lady of the Clouds. Many of the children who were in attendance were born here in America. Their parents however, lived in another land, Ecuador, and came to the United States to live. They were called by the providence of God to a new land, a new journey.
They are my send off. My reminder that we must follow our call, even if it is scary, even if the separation from everything that is safe and known,, even if it causes tears.
Today I woke up and realized that I am now a beggar. I have no job. No security. No certainty. But as my Archbishop, Cardinal Francis George reminded me, I have a mission. For those who follow God, whether it be through their spouse, their family, their work, their journeys, their prayer, or through their very lives, they have no real plans that can be counted upon. They only have the mission.
"Go with God!" many have told me. For seven years, God has made a home for me at St. Ignatius Parish. I have renewed my faith in God here. Why do I have to go to find him?
I found part of the answer in Bishop Mans' homily today. "Christ has come to every culture. Mary as Christ's mother is mother to us all in every culture. American, Ecuadorian, Mexican, etc. " It is for this reason, he said, that John Paul II spend so much time visiting the cultures of the world, to give witness that Christ is there. God is not defined or confined. Neither we should be.
It is time to go.