Camino to the Cross
As the time approached for Him to be taken up to Heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem (Luke 9:51)
In this World you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the World (John 16:33)
Every year, more than 200,000 travelers embark upon the Camino de Santiago (known in English as The Way of St. James), a pilgrimage of more than 200 miles that begins in St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France, and ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. Tradition has it that here the remains of the apostle James are buried. The journey takes travelers through the Pyrenees Mountains and along the northern coast of Spain, using a marked trail to guide them. In the spring of 2011, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to complete the pilgrimage.
The entire journey lasts anywhere from 30-40 days, depending on how much one walks in a given day. Various hostels and churches along the route provide shelter for the night, often free or at a steep discount to those who identify themselves as pilgrims. In addition to that, these places verify the presence of the traveler by placing in their credencial, or Pilgrim’s passport, stamps bearing the name of the various pit stops along the road to the Cathedral of Santiago. While I can remember a profound sense of excitement and adventure at the beginning of the trip, that quickly gave way to feelings of monotony and even boredom as I walked mile after mile with little apparent progress. Every morning, as we set out for another long day of walking, it became necessary to remind myself of the goal at the end of the journey and the work I would do that day to arrive there. Mindset correct, I could set out and accomplish the tasks of that day, big and small.
As we move through this year’s Lenten season, it’s important not only to consider all that Jesus did on His journey to the cross, but also how he did it. Scripture says that as his journey drew closer and closer to its end, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). There was a conviction to the movements that he made, and the actions that he took. He knew all that was in store for him in Jerusalem, and yet determinedly headed towards imminent pain and suffering. He didn’t always receive the favorable treatment and hospitality that my fellow travelers and I did on our journey, but that did not deter Him. He healed the sick, preached to the masses, performed miracles, and changed so many lives along the way that his own personal credencial would not be able to fit it all. All of this he did out a perfect love for you and me. The apostle John says, “Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for his friends (John 15:13).” As we seek to live more resolutely, and with more conviction, we must love what we do, and who we are doing it for.
Those that complete the Camino de Santiago receive a compostela, a certificate of achievement. Through His journey to the cross, His personal camino, Jesus Christ has ensured that I will be credited with accomplishing something I could never dream of doing. His very death and subsequent resurrection we celebrate this Lent finds me holding my very own compostela, the ultimate gift of an eternity spent with Him. Thanks be to God for a love so unconditional that he was willing to endure the pain and suffering of the journey only for me to reap the end reward!
Thank you for your unwavering commitment to a task that none of us could ever bear. Create in us a similar determination to resolutely pursue a relationship with you, and to live with conviction. Keep us steadfast on this journey of life that we are on, and forgive us for when we are easily distracted or dismayed by the various trials of life. Thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus Christ, through whom we will one day reap the ultimate reward of eternal life with you.