Today is the Feast of St. James, one of the first disciples and Jesus’ closest friends. Long time ago though it was, we remember St. James because he was with Jesus at some of the most crucial junctures of his life: the Transfiguration on the mountaintop, the long night between the Last Supper and the Passion. In our own age of searching and journeying, St. James is remembered not so much for the friendships he kept as for lending his name to the long and hugely popular pilgrimage route that follows the coast of Spain called the Santiago de Compostela.
Sometimes (often when I’m succumbing to the dull weight of expectations or feeling the gap between such and my ability to live up to them) it’s a surprise to me that in Anno Domini 2013 such religious pilgrimages are more popular than they’ve ever been. And yet at other times I am less surprised, more grateful because what (I believe) so many seek on those long Spanish roads is what human beings have always sought.
It’s the same thing we hear Paul reminding the Corinthians of, and Jesus reprimanding his friends (yes, even St. James) about, it’s the good news: that the treasure we seek cannot be lost because it is not ours to lose but God’s to give. The good news: that the gift we are given is to live our greatness together as humble, loving servants of one another and of the poorest and most vulnerable.
—Fr. Patrick “Paddy” Gilger, SJ, was ordained on June 15, 2013, and is serving as Associate Pastor of St. John’s Parish, Creighton University, Omaha. Click here for an Ignatian News Network video on ordination featuring Fr. Gilger.