Where's the Path?

A Pentecost Reflection

The Gospel, according to Mark (1:1-8), tells us that John The Baptist was divinely commissioned to prepare the way for the Lord, for Jesus. That’s how this Gospel begins, Jesus being in the way prepared for him beforehand. But as the story goes on, Jesus himself becomes The Way. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” Jesus says (John 14:6, NRSV).

An anecdote told by Stanley Jones, a recognized missionary of the past century, may help us visualize and understand how it is that Jesus being in the way he became The Way. In Africa, Dr. Jones recruited a guide to visit one of the most impoverished settlements in the area. As they walked their way through the jungle, he noticed that the forest was so dense that there was no visible sign of the path ahead. The preoccupied missionary asked the guide, “Where’s the path?” The guide stopped, and turning around he said, “Bwana, here, I am the path!”

That’s what the Gospel tells us about Jesus.

The Lord started in the path prepared for him by John, and as he journeyed in it, he himself became the path, The Way, for all of us.

That’s a good analogy for our own lives as well. Think of your life as a journey. You are a traveler in this life at the mercy of the seasons of warm and cold, love and hate, grace and persecution, abundance and scarcity, passing through valleys of shadows and enjoying green pastures. You are in a journey indeed at the expense of the rights and wrongs of your own and others’, sometimes collecting rewards, some other times collecting the ironies of life, but moving forward at the rhythm of a nonstop melody in your heart. And so it seems that you aren't much different from Jesus after all; you are in the path and becoming a path for others too.

How does that happen? You are traveling in a path or making a path through something. As you mature, growing in knowledge, character, and spirituality in your journey, you are becoming a path that others might be looking at and decide to follow at some point, so they can also have what you have, life at its fullness with Jesus.

That’s the point of making disciples for Jesus. We are called, chosen, to receive and give, to learn and teach others. God empowers Jesus’ followers, like you and me, with the Holy Spirit to do that.

Every year we celebrate the feast of Pentecost to remind us of the power we have received in our baptism, so we can share what we have in Jesus Christ with the world around us, perhaps not with words but with our love, deeds, welcoming, and fellowship.

Take a moment to breathe. Breathe in God and the abundant life Christ offers. Breathe out everything else. In sacred moments like this with the divine our spirituality rises and readies us to become who and what we are supposed to be, a path for others so they can also follow Jesus.

The Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Philippians (1:1-8) that God will bring to completion the good work the Holy Spirit already started in us, in you, because of Jesus. God loves us too much to leave us undeveloped and immature. Because of Jesus, God touches for life, abundant life, those who are willing to be in the path and become themselves a path for others whom God calls to embrace Christ’s love, grace, and light.

Then you are touched for life – and what a privilege that is!