The journey is its own destination

The Legend of the Wandering Jew


When Christ struggled up the hill of Golgotha, there was a Jew named Ahasuerus (known in Filipino legend as Samuel Belibet) who would not let him rest, but would only mock the suffering Jesus, saying, “Why do you loiter? Go faster, Jesus, go faster.” Jesus turned to him and said, “I am going, but you shall wait until I return.” And so it was that Ahasuerus was condemned to roam the earth in despair, awaiting Christ’s return, wandering from place to place. When asked when he arrived, he inevitably answers, “Yesterday.” When asked when he will leave, he always replies, “Tomorrow.”

“We look before and after, and pine for what is not,” Shelley wrote. Before him, St. Augustine already declared, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” We are creatures desperately seeking for meaning and mystery. Our hearts are always already beyond—that is our nature. And this yearning has a cosmic scope: Does the universe have a purpose? Despite earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and ten-kilometer diameter meteorites slamming into the Yucatan Peninsula, is the universe kind and full of grace? Is there proof beyond reasonable doubt that there is a beyond that transcends the vagaries of fate and all human delusions?

The human being exists as person, not as that which he or she is, but as that which he or she will be. Being human has its roots in the future and its branches in the present—we constantly transcend ourselves as we wander from yesterday to tomorrow. This is the argument for the priority of our adhika, the intentional constitution, over rationality as the key to understanding our own humanity.

Personhood is an event, rather than a condition. We are most free when we can be all that we ought to be. And so we constantly wander across the dream-crossed twilight between birth and dying.

The Way, Truth and the Life

God’s plan is to be incarnate in the universe and communicate salvation individually and collectively to those beings living there. The divine self-giving is made accessible as an offer addressed to human beings in their self-understanding, self-determination and authentic self-transcendence. In Jesus, the Christ, the universe reaches the climax of its history of self-transcendence towards God. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus the Christ has become the determining feature of the whole universe.

Christian faith holds that the origin, the ground and the goal of the history of the universe is the Father, Son and Spirit. In the Paschal mystery, the one and triune God takes up what is human into the divine reality itself. In his dying and rising, Jesus revealed to us that the fundamental issue about the question of how God is related to the world is that the dynamism of divine life defines itself by the eternal process of separation and union, of difference and identity. It is through the indwelling of the Spirit that we know God and Christ relationally, and through that same indwelling, we are constantly being transformed into God’s own likeness “from glory unto glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Jesus of Nazareth is God’s absolute self-giving to the universe. There is a vital connection between the divine self-giving in Jesus and the universal self-giving of the Trinity through grace. He is the way, the truth and the life. Hence, the values and goals in the context of the human adventure in an evolving cosmos are grounded in our constant search for God: If Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, what should we do to give hope to a planet in peril, and what kind of future ought we to fashion, so that we can discover him in history?

Christ promised the fullness of life to everyone. The Christian equates the fullness of life with things like wisdom, understanding, counsel, courage, knowledge and the fear of God. This is the wisdom of a person who knows his or her real worth and is willing to pay the price to attain it – the understanding of the mother who can reach her child’s heart; the judgment of a teen-ager who sees the problem in the light of its consequences; the courage of a man who follows the dictates of his conscience. We must explore the depths of our hearts, and finding Christ there, we must commit our self fully to follow him, for he is the source and summit of all joy and peace.

Followers of the Way

The real Christians are those who have committed their lives to Christ and who proclaim in their own ways that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Their witness leads us to a deeper understanding of truth and life and mystery and justice. They call us to change our way of life. They are not drifters who offer no resistance, who strike out in no clear direction, have no aims, make no choices. They are those who chose to commit their lives to Christ and have given their all to him. They know that personal commitment to Christ determines their own destiny.

To find the way, to discover the truth, to live the more abundant life, we must never seek ourselves. We must abandon our wills completely, and allow Christ within our souls to take over. We must go to where there is poverty, loneliness, suffering, to have the courage to be with the poor in obedience to his mandate. We have to trust that by throwing ourselves into that place of pain, we will find the joy of Jesus. All commitment to Jesus is built on that vision. Remain in Jesus; he remains in you. You will bear much fruit, you will have great joy, and your joy will be complete.

In the light of the eternal process of separation and union that characterize God’s self-giving in Jesus’ dying on the cross, the greatest lesson that life teaches us is that discovery of the way, the truth and the life always involves great loss. Beneath the surface, where loss discloses itself, is where one must begin the journey into solitude to discover God’s dazzling truth as one dies to oneself in passing through the cloud of unknowing. The cloud of unknowing symbolizes the ultimate unknowability of God. It also symbolizes the openness of the future in the on-going process of cosmic evolution. This openness overwhelmingly suggests that the universe is about something, that there is a meaning to it.

We can be part of whatever future there will be for the universe, death notwithstanding, if our journey to the future is at the same time a search for the holy and triune God, in, with, and through Christ. As we wander through history and fulfill our destiny, we discover Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.

In this way, our journey is its own destination.


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