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SPECIAL: Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road

6/20/2007 - 5:55 AM PST

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transport. The contemporary phenomenon of mobility should be experienced by Christians, by exercising the theological and cardinal virtues. For the faithful, the road also becomes a path to holiness.

Notes from the Old Testament

11. The Bible contains continuous migrations and wanderings. The Patriarchs, Abraham (cf. Genesis 12:4-10), Isaac (cf. Genesis 26:1,17,22), Jacob (cf. Genesis 29:1; 31:21; 46:1-7)) and Joseph (cf. Genesis 37:28) led a wandering existence. When their descendants had become a numerous people, Moses led them out of Egypt (cf. Exodus 12:41), crossing the Red Sea (cf. Exodus 14) and wandering in the desert (see Exodus 15:22).

12. In the experience of mobility, full of risks and tragedies, the People of God are always assisted by the special protection of Yahweh (see Exodus 13:21). The repeated unfaithfulness of the Israelites to the Covenant would later lead to a far more distressing journey, the deportation to Babylon (cf. 2 Kings 24:15). After long years of exile, God's faithfulness was manifested in the proclamation of Cyrus, which gave the opportunity of the joyful return journey to the Promised Land (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Psalms 126 [125].

13. The psalmist (cf. Psalms 107 [106]:7) indicates the "straight way" on which the Lord leads, whilst the prophet Isaiah calls for preparation of the highway of the Lord (cf. Isaiah 40:3). The importance given by the Bible to the theme of wandering -- of travelling -- also clearly emerges from the fact that the term "way" is used as a metaphor to indicate all kinds of human behaviour. The Scriptures insistently exhort the choice of "straight ways", and not "to stand in the way of sinners" (Psalms 1:1), and to walk in the ways of the Lord (cf. Deuteronomy 8:6; 10:12; 19:9).

Notes from the New Testament

14. The New Testament contains numerous references to travelling and journeys, such as those carried out by Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus, and the continuous travelling of Christ during his public life and the journeys of the apostles. The evangelists present the life of Christ as a continuous journey. He went through towns and villages proclaiming the Gospel and healing "every disease and sickness" (cf. Matthew 9:35), whilst a lengthy section of Luke's Gospel (9:51-19:41) tells us of the Lord on his way to Jerusalem, where he was to bring his "exodus" to fulfilment (cf. Luke 9:31)[6].

15. The parables also contain ways and journeys, such as the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is immediately applicable to the Pastoral Care of the Road (cf. Luke 10:29-37), and the parable of the prodigal son who set off "for a distant country" (Luke 15:13) and then returned to his father (cf. Luke 15:13-20). We also recall the man who "went on a journey" and entrusted his property to his servants (cf. Matthew 25:14-30).

16. Jesus also sent his disciples out onto the road. Indeed, he sent them out, two by two, to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom (cf. Mark 6:6-13), while in Luke's Gospel the mission of the seventy-two disciples (cf. Luke 10:1-20) suggests a universal extension of the subsequent one, made explicit when the Risen Christ sends out the apostles, saying: "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19; and Luke 24:47).Indeed, they would be witnesses "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). This universal mission would entail countless journeys, as attested by the Acts of the Apostles, undertaken by Peter (cf. Acts 9:32-11:2) and Paul (cf. Acts 13:4-14:28; 15:36-28:16).

17. Overall, the Bible thus presents us the situation of human mobility, with its risks, satisfactions, and troubles, and affirms its link with God's redeeming plan. Thus we may see travelling not only as physical movement from one place to another, but also in its spiritual dimension, due to the fact that it puts people in touch with each other, thereby contributing to the realisation of God's plan of love.

Christ is the Way, He is the Road

18. John's Gospel presents some particularly important expressions regarding the spirituality of the road, in the realisation of God's plan. Lord Jesus says: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). By presenting himself as the "way", Christ shows us that everything should be directed towards the Father. The statement, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8,12:), confirms that Jesus and his message are the luminous way to direct our lives towards the Father. Whoever follows the Lord, and fulfils his Word, will go forward along the way of life.

19. Those who know Jesus Christ are careful on the roads. They don't only think about themselves, and are not always worried ...

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