There may be no stronger sensation in life than that of coming home, no matter how we might define it. For many people, home means their childhood home. For others, home is where the family (whatever is left of them) happens to gather. For almost all of us, home is the city or town where we live and the familiar rhythms that shape our lives.
The short first reading next Sunday may seem cryptic to many worshippers. It comes from the Book of Joshua, the collection of testimonies of Hebrew life after Moses has died. Joshua now leads the Hebrew people in place of Moses, as their long journey through the desert comes to an end.
“Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you,” the Lord says. And, indeed, it is a peculiar way to say something incredibly important for the Israelites. What was the reproach? They left their own land to spend centuries in a foreign land, eventually even becoming slaves there. And how is the reproach removed? It is through the coming of God’s people, at last, into their own land.
We hear in the reading how the Hebrew people celebrate the Passover and then, finally, how they eat of the fruit of their own land. The manna, that strange and wonderful bread that the Israelites ate in the desert, stops right at this moment. They are no longer wayfarers, journeying through the desert, exiled from home. Now they can eat their own food. Now they have come home.
The paradox of this story is how the Hebrew people can come home, and be at home, in a land that most of them had not yet even experienced. It’s as if home were not a distant memory as it is for most of us, but a future hope, a hope now realized for them through the mercy of God.
If home is future, and not only in the past, what home do you envision when your journey comes to an end? What memory or place says home to you most powerfully?
Spend some time reflecting on what place or time says home to you. Look through your photo album or your online photos. Notice what feelings they evoke in you. Ask yourself if anything about your parish feels like home.
Let nothing disturb you; let nothing frighten you. All things are passing away; God alone is unchanging. Patience obtains everything. God alone suffices.
(St. Teresa of Avila, “Bookmark”)