Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin, SJ available on Amazon.com
In Lent 2017 I read My Life with the Saints by Father James Martin, and it was one of those books that completely changed my life. Maybe I will review it next. So this year for Lent I ambitiously undertook Jesus: A Pilgrimage, which is about twice as long. Add to that the fact that I was working full time instead of home on maternity leave and I barely finished it in time for Easter. But that ended up being one of the best things about this book for me.
Jesus: A Pilgrimage follows Father James and his fellow Jesuit friend on their travels through the Holy Land. The book is beautifully broken into 25 chapters at 25 different locations that hold important significance for lovers of the gospel. The book is part travel memoir, part spiritual reading and part scripture study. I loved it for many reasons, but the coolest part for me was what the Holy Spirit was doing in my own life while I was reading this book.
I’ve always been a great reader and a quick reader, but for some reason this book was just moving slower for me. I was enjoying what I was reading, but since I was using it for morning prayer before school, inevitably the baby would wake up, the husband’s alarm would start ringing, etc. and I would have to put the book down to be mom and wife. But as a result, the timing of each chapter fit perfectly what I needed. For example, I got to the pools of Bethesda the very day that the gospel reading included Jesus’s question “Do you wish to be well?”. And on Palm Sunday, frustrated with my slow pace, I started the chapter on Jerusalem. Because I wasn’t able to finish before Easter, I read the Easter chapters during the octave of Easter.
The way the book was organized followed the gospel narratives instead of the actual travel, but I loved the way that fit in with the work I was doing with my students at the time. (At our school, 7th graders learn New Testament, and the day we were talking about the parable of the sower and the seeds, Father James was telling me about the bay of parables, where many scripture scholars believe this parable was originally told.) The book is a daunting 465 pages, but totally worth the read, especially for anyone involved in teaching the gospels.
Popcorn: 1- this book is full of big ideas, scripture and is very long.
Stars: 5- when I have time I want to read this book with my bible study group so we can discuss. It is THAT good.