Would you like to go for a walk?
What sounds like a very simple— perhaps even rudimentary— question is, in my experience, one of the most significant invitations a human being can be extended. Back in May, at the Jubilee benefit concert, I shared that from an early point in my life, walking has been a major component of my spiritual life. I think this could hardly be all that exceptional. How often have we heard of Jesus walking with the disciples traveling to Emmaus? Is not the Christian life fundamentally depicted as a pilgrimage? Do not all Catholics recall in some way “walking the Stations of the Cross?”
When I entered seminary, back in 1981, a lot of us did not have cars. Consequently, we did a lot of walking. As I developed what proved to be strong friendships, sharing a walk was a frequent exercise, and not just physically. Quite often, there was not even a set geographical destination; it was the meaningful conversation that advanced the journey.
Will you walk with me? My dear friends, when it comes to placing our faith into action, when we commit to being in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, we are truly responding to that question. I would hope that all Catholics have at least heard of the March For Life. The longest-established event associated with the term takes place in our nation’s capital, in the latter part of January, to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision known as Roe v. Wade. However, there are now multiple cities hosting multiple walks, with the hope and prayer that more and more hearts can be transformed by the message of the Gospel of Life.
While it has been some years since I attended the march, I recall it as a wonderful occasion for affirming the gift of life. While it is called a “march,” it is truly a pilgrimage. There are a lot of strollers and people supporting people on the way. Even if one is not in a position to attend one of these out-of-town events, figuratively you can join in by attending the local Sanctity of Life Service announced on a later page
Now, there is an expression associated with walking that carries a negative connotation: “Take a hike!” This is one without which we can all do. It suggests that we are not interested— open to— the message and the presence of another. We only need to ask: did Jesus ever resort to this attitude (Yes, he drove out the moneychangers from the Temple, but it was actually their activity that he was expelling.)?
In so many instances, we are called— yes, challenged— to walk with the vulnerable and suffering, or on their behalf. Just consider how many running/walking events are sponsored in our own city on behalf of causes involving illness. You will note, in this bulletin issue, the announcement of a Mass of Anointing to be held in early February (the First Wednesday). This is a day when the school children attend at 9:30; what a beautiful opportunity for them to witness this sacrament of healing— how we, as Church, walk with the suffering.