As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” (Lk 9:57-58)
Jesus was always on the go. Not long after He was conceived in the womb of His mother Mary, He was carried off “in haste” to the hill country of Judah (Lk 1:39). Later on in Mary’s pregnancy Joseph took Mary and the prenatal Jesus from Galilee to Bethlehem (Lk 2:4) where Jesus was born. Soon after, he was taken to Jerusalem to be presented in the Temple; after an undetermined time, and still an infant, Jesus was marshaled away to Egypt to avoid the murderous wrath of King Herod (Mt 2:13).
The hectic and well-traveled infant narrative of Jesus Christ is a true narrative and was presented by the Gospel writers as historical truth. Yet is also serves the hermeneutical purpose of explaining that Jesus was not of this earth and therefore the earth did not prepare for him a place of rest. No doubt Jesus had temporary places of rest as he grew and lived with his parents and later on in places like Capernaum during his public ministry, but Jesus was not of this world (Jn 8:23) and He did not come here for vacation or respite, but for mission and redemption.
While Jesus wandered the earth (or a particular region of the earth) as He lived among us, He did wander with a purpose. Jesus went here and there but He was always fulfilling prophecy, escaping capture, or preaching the Gospel. Even when Jesus was carried away by his persecutors, He knew exactly where He was going and He went to Jerusalem with the express purpose of fulfilling His destiny on the Cross.
On this “13th Sunday” we pick up again the season of Ordinary Time, which is hardly ordinary as evidenced by today’s Gospel reading. We place on our bulletin cover a work by the Russian Realist Vasily Surikov entitled, Wanderer (1886). This is not an oil painting on canvas but a watercolor completed on paper. Surikov actually drew this image or parts of this image (such as the face) over a two year period. He was mostly a painter of Russian history and his images were very active and always bringing about some great change in the world. Yet, this is not the case with this image.
This wanderer is not like many other figures in the peasant genre which often appear old and tired and bent. Surikov’s wanderer is straight and stalwart, keen-eyed and grasping his staff with strength and determination. Surikov sheds an absorbing light on his figure so it is difficult to determine if his earth-tone clothes wear the light in impressionistic fashion or if the garb is truly tattered from age. In any case, this wanderer is not aged; he appears as Tolkien’s Aragorn, timeless, a wanderer with a purpose.
We too are called through our baptism to be as exiles on the earth, pilgrims and journeyers in grace. In our wandering in the Spirit there is no danger of our being lost. The only danger for us is in being so firmly fixed upon the earth that we prefer it to heaven.
–Steve Guillotte, Director of Pastoral Services