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Speaking to the Soul: Hit the Road

Speaking to the Soul: Hit the Road

Week of Proper 24, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 25 (morning) // 9, 15 (evening)

Ecclesiasticus 4:20-5:7

Revelation 7:1-8

Luke 9:51-62

At a certain point in my life, many guys I knew were finding enlightenment in rediscovering Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” The book describes a few road trips taken by two men looking for adventure, connection, and meaning. Road trips must be some kind of eternal form that speaks to the soul.

In today’s gospel, Jesus and his disciples set out on a road trip of their own. Luke’s gospel situates much of Jesus’s ministry along the road between Galilee and Jerusalem, passing through Samaria. In today’s reading from chapter 9, Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” He won’t get there until chapter 19, and his teaching will cover a lot of ground along the way.

On the road, Jesus’s followers learn to move on instead of getting stuck in anger. When a Samaritan village declines to offer Jesus hospitality, two of his disciples ask Jesus whether he wants them to call down a consuming fire. But Jesus rebukes these disciples, and they all go “on to another village.”

On the road, Jesus’s followers have to live without a place where they can rest secure. As Jesus warns one potential follower who wants to join the road trip, “Foxes have holes, and bird of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

And on the road, Jesus’s followers have to accept that there’s no turning back. When other potential followers ask Jesus to wait while they say farewells to family and friends, Jesus tells them, “Let the dead bury their own dead,” and “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I can almost hear Jesus deliver some of these lines through cigarette smoke and with a faraway look, headed to join his fellow beatniks in San Francisco. But that’s not where this road trip ends up. Still, it shares in that enduring road-trip spirit of passing through anger, of resting in uncertain places, and of finding the freedom to move forward.

Lora Walsh blogs about the Daily Office readings at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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