It is likely that most of us, if not all of us, have traveled across country in an automobile. If we are the driver, we might take the time to study a map. We might download directions from the Internet. If we travel a lot, we might invest in a GPS app for our mobile phone. If we do end up in unfamiliar surroundings, we might stop to ask someone for help in getting us from where we are to where we want to go.
In the ancient world, it was not uncommon for travelers to take or to make different routes to the same destination. Often the roads were patrolled by military legions and used by merchant caravans. The soldiers were perfect targets for rebellious outlaws and the caravans were easy pickings for bandits. To avoid unwanted search and seizures and being robbed, travelers would sometimes take known back roads or rely on their natural navigational instincts to get them to their desired destination.
In the Epiphany story, the Magi arrived by following the rising of a star. We can only speculate about the difficulties and problems they may have encountered along the way. They were a determined group who knew their destination while uncertain about their route. But what is important is not their physical travel but the way of their internal journey. Pilgrims invest themselves in their journey. They perceive the internal dimensions of their journey. They are affected both by their journey as well as by arriving at their destination.
For the last two years, I have had the grace-filled opportunity to walk with the members and friends of the Church of St. Matthew. While our heavenly destination will remain the same our earthly paths now diverge. As I leave the Church of St. Matthew, I thank all of you for sharing in important decisions, contributing your finances and prayers to needed projects, and supporting me in ministry and now my move back home. You have shown and shared with me the many ways you are a visible expression of God’s love. For this I am most blessed.
Dominicans are itinerant. We move from place to place. It is a Dominican custom for a Dominican community to pray a 13th Century Dominican blessing before a member of the Dominican family departs for a new location. I pray this blessing for us now:
May God the Father bless us,
May God the Son heal us.
May God the Holy Spirit enlighten us
and give us eyes to see with,
ears to hear with,
hands to do the work of God with,
feet to walk with
and a mouth to preach the word of salvation.
The angel of peace to watch over us
and lead us at last by our Lord’s gift to the kingdom.
Fr. Bob Kelly, OP