There was a time not so long ago, when we needed to get to a place where we had not been before, it would be quite normal to ask people for directions. In giving directions, people always pointed out landmarks, milestones or signposts to lookout for and that somewhat made the journey a little easier as it provides the assurance that we are in the right direction. All this has changed today as we embrace technology.
I find myself driving to new places with the aid of either Waze or Google Maps. Most times my attention would be to listening and occasionally looking to the directions given by these apps so much so that I barely pay attention to landmarks or places that I may be driving by. I am sure if someone later asked me directions to that same place, I would not be able to describe the detailed direction I had taken and would most likely utter, ‘use Waze la!’.
Landmarks, milestones and significant signposts are important in life and there are no apps for it. In the first reading we hear how the first disciple of Jesus were overwhelmed with the work of taking care of the physical needs of the people that they overlooked their spiritual needs… they had neglected sharing the word of God. The first disciples were living witnesses – they had been with Jesus, heard Him teach, saw Him perform miracles and witnessed the resurrection.
They shared with people what they themselves heard with their ears and saw with their eyes. It was their story to tell because those stories were the landmarks, milestones and signposts for future disciples… that which will lead us to Jesus.
The great author C.S Lewis said, “when we are lost in the woods, the sight of a signpost is a great matter”. Metaphorically, we are at a period where we are ‘lost in the woods’ with regard to our faith journey… unable to go to the Church, no sacraments as it was before, no rituals that we have become accustomed to, etc. Many people feel the sense of loss but perhaps it is time for us to rise up and be the landmark, milestone and signpost for the Church to others.
In the gospel today, Jesus presents Himself as ‘the way, the truth and the life’ and Philip asks Jesus to let them see the Father. To this Jesus replies, ‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father’. All of Jesus’ public ministry was to lead the way to the Father and at this time we must do the same. When our parish churches are closed, the ‘domestic church’ must come alive and be the signpost of God’s presence in the world for it “ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates…the future of evangelisation depends in great part on the Church of the home” (St Pope John Paul II).
Though we have been stripped off the “accessories” of Church life, the MCO has steered us to be innovative and creative in spreading the Gospel through digital technology. It has also taught us not only to refocus and rediscover our identity as Christians, but at a time like this, to re-imagine, re-build and revitalise expressions of our faith. Yet, we might still ask, “How can I be a landmark for others… what can I do?” There are still many tangible needs in our communities.
Social distancing is hard in a time when we need each other so badly. But we can still reach out in mercy and love. Social distancing is necessary but relational distancing is not what the Church is about. So, let’s create a milestone and be the signposts together – let’s build a relational bridge to overcome the social moat created by this pandemic. As we wade through this “chaos”, God is calling each one of us to be the way, the truth and the life (the landmark, milestone & signpost), that points to the Father. Amen.