I love the writing of James Martin, S.J., and have benefitted from each of the books he has written as well as from many of his articles in America and otherwise. This is no less true of his newest book, which I just finished reading: Jesus: A Pilgrimage.
Martin describes his book as “an invitation for you to meet the Jesus I have studied, the Jesus I follow, and the Jesus I met in the Holy Land,” with the aim of prompting readers to explore more about Jesus. He does this through chapters that explore major stories of the Gospels through the lens of his own life and prayer (and Martin’s honesty about his own weaknesses is both admirable and encouraging), stories from his teachers, and his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Each chapter ends with the Gospel passage, the story of which was the subject of the chapter, inviting prayerful reflection before moving on.
I should have been writing posts about the content of this book as I read it, because there is way to much to share in a single blog post, although I suppose I could simply say (a) put this on your summer reading list if it is not there already, and (b) Martin’s descriptions of his time in the Holy Land increase my desire to visit there.
But I will share here just three of the things that I found particularly helpful and worth reflecting on. First, in Martin’s discussion of Luke’s account of the miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11), Martin zeroes in on Peter’s reaction to the miraculous catch: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Martin suggests we “can try to imagine Peter’s possible frame of mind when he asked Jesus to leave him, but it is just as important to understand why we say to God, ‘Go away from me.'” He spends the next several pages looking at the some possible reasons, discussing our feelings of unworthiness, fear (of God and God’s power), fear of change, and fear of intimacy. He ends this helpful discussion with the reminder of Jesus’ response to Peter’s “Go away” – Jesus does not depart form Peter, but calls him to join him in his mission. Likewise, he does not depart from us when our fears cause us to move away. Continue reading