Leaving Santiago

The Congress ends today. After the Pilgrim Mass in the Cathedral at noon, at which I have been asked to read, I will make my way back home. It is a reminder to me that the Camino may have a very clear destination but it is not a place where we are meant to stay. The journey has to always go on, that is the Christian view of the journey. When the women are told in St Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus is risen the angel then says

“Go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” (Matthew 28.7)

Jesus is always going ahead of us, walking the Way. And we don’t know where the Way leads. Yesterday we were given a talk about the iconography of St James and the speaker focused on images of his martyrdom, something he felt was often overlooked. James was in fact the first of the apostles to be killed as a witness to Christ. This is how the book of the Acts of the Apostles records it

‘About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword.’ (Acts 12.1-2)

The martyrdom of St James

The martyrdom of St James

So coming back to Santiago de Compostela has been thrilling. It has been good to meet people passionate about the Camino, people struggling to make sense of the very disparate group of people now walking, from very different motivations. The question has to be, how does the Church genuinely welcome whoever wishes to walk and yet is able to retain enough of the Christian heritage of the Camino to ensure that it is not just another ‘extreme challenge’ or secular pilgrimage? I reflected that this is the Golden Age of the Camino. That has its challenges as well as its joys. It has to be worth struggling with the challenges and seeing this as a road on which many will find themselves walking with Christ, perhaps for the first time.

Eternal God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life:
grant us to walk in his way,
to rejoice in his truth,
and to share his risen life;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.
Amen.

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