Advent: God’s pilgrimage to humanity
Saint Ignatius of Loyola puts it very beautifully in his classic the Spiritual Exercises where he speaks of the Trinity looking down on the Earth and finds the humankind in a mess and directionless because of sin and the Second Person decides to go for a pilgrimage to give humanity a right direction and that pilgrimage is Advent.
By Joe Palathunkal
Over the centuries we have been fed with the idea that pilgrimage means we go to the divine and the holy travelling sometimes a long distance and often a tedious one as part of getting merits from our pilgrimage and it did not mean only the visit to the place but also the whole journey. But the Advent tells us about a completely different pilgrimage, the opposite of what we have been thinking and doing throughout centuries.
Advent changes the concept which people have been holding since the dawn of human civilization that we human beings have to search for God and therefore we have to be on a perennial pilgrimage but like a Big Bang theory God decides to turn around our entrenched thinking and he decides on a course of pilgrimage the opposite direction: to humanity.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Saint Ignatius of Loyola puts it very beautifully in his classic the Spiritual Exercises where he speaks of the Trinity looking down on the Earth and finds the humankind in a mess and directionless because of sin and the Second Person decides to go for a pilgrimage to give humanity a right direction and that pilgrimage is Advent or coming and it was God’s coming to humanity as a pilgrim but in an entirely different sense and meaning. If we make pilgrimage to purify ourselves, God makes pilgrimage to purify us with his intervention in our history.
This pilgrimage was to see our face defaced by sin and lack of love for our fellow human beings and it was not the face that God had made in his own image as stated in the Genesis and the coming of Jesus was to restore that face to its original beauty as meant by the Creator. So, God’s pilgrimage to humanity was the most important mission in God’s vision.
This pilgrimage gave a powerful message to all the people that they should not waste their time searching for a God who does not want to meet them but be holy by being human to meet the God who comes to you as a pilgrim to redeem your fallen situation and that God is going to be with you till the end of times.
Thus God’s pilgrimage to humanity becomes a revolutionary one that wanted to meet all the people in whatever condition they may be in the complex and complicated cultural conditions in which they live and his birth in a stable proclaimed a new gospel that every human being is precious irrespective of their condition and nobody can be condemned for his state or condition.
A visual of Jesus walking towards St. Peter on the water
This pilgrimage was a call to meet a God who wants to meet you unconditionally unlike other Gods who put too many conditions to meet them and some even spurn you because of your gender or birth but this pilgrim God had no such problems. Advent is an invitation to meet this pilgrim God who made you as pilgrim destination and no God has done that in human history.
On 25th December the world celebrates that pilgrim God who tells the world as an infant in a stable that this stable is my pilgrim destination to meet you who have been searching for me laboriously all these centuries carrying the heavy burdens of rituals, customs and ideas which are totally opposite to what I have come to live and proclaim. Always keep in mind this pilgrim God when you are at the cross-roads of bewildering religious views and thoughts.
(Joe Palathunkal is Associate Editor, Living in Faith)