Walking The Way With Those Who Have Gone Before

Almost four months home from walking the Way of St. James, I am still pondering what it was all about. I now have an icon of James in my office that I look at daily. But who was he really and why do almost 300,000 people walk the path every year to honor him?

James was the brother of the apostle John and son of Zebedee and Salome. It is believed that James had an ordinary education and led a common Jewish life. One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he spotted James and his brother mending nets on the fishing boat with their father. He asked them to come and follow him. The nets were dropped and they followed immediately.

I am sure that those few short years were packed. We know that James heard many stories from Jesus. We know that he was one of the few who witnessed the transfiguration as well as the raising of Jairius’ daughter.  We also know that he could be pretty narrow, fickle, narcissistic and arrogant. He actually asked to sit on either the right or left hand of Jesus in the kingdom. He incited violence on a few Samaritans because they were not welcoming.

In spite of all of his hang-ups, James was given the power to proclaim the good news of the Gospel. This he did with all of his humanity. We now know him to be a saint. Many go on pilgrimage yearly to catch a glimpse of who he was and to get close to him in some mystical way.

A dear friend of mine just died. She was in her eighties and I had not even known her for 10years, though it seems like a lifetime. She gave me many life lessons. Change was something that she embraced. She loved to learn and be stretched in her thinking and beliefs. She was doing this till her last breath. A friend who was with her near the end said that she even voiced,  "I can't wait to see what is next.  I am so curious about it all.  People say it will be more beautiful than we can imagine."  She obviously had a deep faith. Her theology had changed quite a bit in the last few years as she grew in depth spiritually. She was honest, always telling things like she saw them. She was not afraid to rock the boat. If she felt that she had wronged someone, she was quick to apologize and make amends. She was comfortable with her humanity. God had definitely given her the power to proclaim the gospel. She too is another saint along with James that I have come to know on this pilgrimage of life.

As we approach All Saints Day, take a little time to remember and celebrate saints of old and those saints that you have come to know recently. We have all been given this power to proclaim the gospel through our humanity. We have to choose to embrace this gift daily.

The Way of Saint James is helping me to see the many saints who walk this way with me. “God help me to be one too."


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