“I am the way, the truth, and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father, except through me.” John 14:6
In today’s gospel, Jesus welcomes his disciples to a lively conversation among friends, and, as reasonable people, they ask him for clarity that might direct their journey ahead.
Throughout life, there is a need for a spiritual conversion to gain secure footing and personal direction. Recall Christ was speaking at the Last Supper, assuring his friends of his saving presence, as he assures us, even now in our uncertain times.
How do we take up this invitation of his with grace?
An envelope arrives in the afternoon mail. It’s weighty with extra postage. With perfect lettering, your name and address are handwritten.
You open the packet, and you learn that your presence is requested to attend the exchange of vows and reception for John & Hillary, or Kerri & Walter, and Kristina & Charles Smith IV. The location is Kent, CT, or Sydney, AU, maybe Calistoga, CA, or Pebble Beach? It’s a “destination wedding,” and there begins my problem.
I’m not good at destinations, near or far. Some time ago, I got lost going to a reception at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Point Joe location, overlooking Asilomar Beach. Not to mention, a distanced wedding held in Kent, CT, a tiny hamlet on the New York and Connecticut state lines. This lush rural countryside is an expanse with the most picture-perfect covered bridges. Even Google Maps had a jumbled version of how to drive from mid-town Manhattan to this far-flung site.
Nonetheless, you accept the invitation and dutifully reply. With a yes, a kind note to the parents, fully anticipating that sacred moment some weeks ahead. A time to celebrate with college or high school friends, along with family members, to gain the memories and photos that capture such occasions for a lifetime.
Along the highway to these places, carefully marked signposts, or very detailed directions are of great value. Most of all, we listen to the reassuring words of the automobile’s navigator: “Turn right, your destination will be on the left.”
To my mind, all sacraments, like a “destination wedding,” each take us to a specific place in our lives, providing the very assurance of a lifetime of grace.
Are we ready and prepared for these journeys of grace? I believe this is what Jesus is referring to when he says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. I have come that you may have life, and may live it more abundantly. I am the way to the Father.”
Recall, in our religion classes, we are told that sacraments are outward signs of an interior, indeed a spiritual reality.
All sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, and even those tender last moments when death meets life, each of these sacred journeys of grace contain Christ’s presence. They take us to a world where we are alive in Christ.
This spiritual consolation remains a centerpiece of our experience of Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and the mystery of the Trinity. These are the very persons who have loved us into being.
A final point: like a “destination wedding,” these are blessed moments in our lives; we live, never hold onto but never forget.
This year especially, there are missed moments: weddings via Zoom or delayed, children awaiting baptism alongside adoring grandparents and sponsors ready and waiting; and, of course, Confirmation, well maybe next year?
To my mind, graduation is a solemn moment of grace. At Santa Catalina, we take great pride in affirming the years of effort and accomplishments of our graduates. With the directives to distance ourselves or shelter in place, the live-commencement ceremonies may find an online or televised substitute.
In whatever version, be assured of the Lord’s presence and that of the most affirming community of family and friends providing the support that brings us to our specific destinations of grace.
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.