Reflecting on Luke 9: 11b-17
The hottest and hungriest I ever was was in the summer of 1993, during the walk to the “deserted place” where World Youth Day was held in Cherry Creek State Park. Millions of us were streaming into the park from dozens of trails. The walk was long, and it was the Feast of the Assumption, traditionally one of the hottest weeks in Denver.
The sight was staggering. Thousands of colorful tents were pegged into the dirt. Heat vapors plumed up from the airless, heat-baked grounds. Emergency aid stations were packed. You never saw such a mass of thirsty, exhausted people. You never saw such joy.
And no one was leaving. Not when the rains started, not when the lines for the port-a-potties snaked back to the entrances, not even when international pilgrims, not acclimated to the altitude and the desert-like conditions, collapsed and needed to be carried to the aid stations.
No one gave a thought to leaving. The pope was there.
I think of that experience as I imagine the crowd of five thousand in a desert place as day was ending. Everyone was exhausted. Everyone was hungry. But Jesus was there. He had already healed many in need, and who knew who was next? There was no way they were leaving.
Every year, the Knights of Malta give up a week of their lives to wheel dying pilgrims to the grotto of Lourdes. Those who are paralyzed, blind and crippled rely on them to get them in and out of the freezing water.
Year after year, the volunteers return. No one gives a thought to leaving.
Apparently, when the Spirit grabs your heart, your body doesn’t notice what else is going on.
Join Kathy’s husband Ben in Lourdes and Fatima this fall. Contact him at Ben.firstname.lastname@example.org