Restoration

Restoration

Posted September 18, 2012:
I Am the Foot

by Pilgrim George.

I have an unusual vocation. The Lord has asked me to carry the cross on the highways and byways of the world.

Some people, when they see me walking, say, "I could never do that—walk 15 or 20 miles a day, without money, just trusting in God, sleeping in the woods in my tent, eating whatever people offer to me." But it is possible by God’s grace and calling, and it is a life of peace and of joy.

It’s a very simple life. I have only two things to do each day: to walk and to pray. I don’t have to prepare meals or clean the kitchen or sweep the house or go to work or pay bills. So my life is what Our Lady said at Fatima: the two parts of the Christian life are prayer and sacrifice.

Prayer is our relationship with God, and the sacrifice is our relationship with our brothers and sisters. For me the sacrifice is walking.

One day someone asked me, "What good do you do on the earth? How much money do you make? How do you help people?" And I began to ask myself, "How do I help others?"

As I was walking these past couple of weeks, the answer came to me: I’m showing the way to heaven as I walk.

One day a little boy in India said, "Where are you going?" I said, "to heaven." He said, "Is this the way to heaven?"

I said, "Yes, if you’re following Jesus. Jesus is the way to heaven."

What did Jesus say? I am the Way…. No one comes to the Father except through me (Jn 14:6).

So as I walk with the cross, I’m showing the world the way to happiness, to peace, to eternal life, but I don’t say it in words. When I walk in most countries, I don’t know the language. I say it in sign and symbol, like a parable, by the cross, and by my life.

I’m not called to be an evangelist, a teacher, a preacher, or a pastor.

When people ask me how I got this calling or what it means, I point out that the Church is like a body, as St. Paul says, with different members—the eye, the arm, the ear. I am the foot. So I walk.

The whole body can’t be the foot, and the foot needs the other members. If there were no farmers growing food, how would I eat? Some are called to be the hands and to clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Others are called to be the mouth and proclaim the Gospel. I’m just called to walk.

But if we do what God asks us, whatever member we are, the whole body benefits.

One day I was walking in Mexico, and a young man came by in his truck and said to me, "I had to come back and tell you something. I saw you walking as I was driving down the highway, and when I saw you, I felt God’s holiness in my heart, and I no longer want to smoke.

God delivered him because I was obedient—just doing what God asked me to do. I didn’t see the man, I didn’t talk to him, but the Holy Spirit works. And I think this is true for all the members of the Body. If we focus on Jesus, then he works through us without our effort, without our knowledge.

So I don’t worry about how many people I’ve converted or saved or told about Jesus. That’s the Lord’s responsibility. All we’re called to do is be who he calls us to be.

When I walk in Western countries—United States, Canada, Europe—usually only three or four people a day will take the time to stop and talk with me. Others maybe wave as they pass or blow their horn or shout obscenities, but usually I come across someone who is seeking the Lord or open to the Lord and who responds to me.

One day, on the way up to Combermere, it was getting near evening and I was looking for a place to sleep. A sheriff pulled up to me. I thought he was going to ask for my identification, but he didn’t. He just started to talk.

"I’m thirty years old," he said. "I have everything. I have a good job, status, a wife, children, a house, but there is still something missing. Can you tell me what it is?"

Certainly I can tell you," I said. "It’s Jesus!" He was a very intelligent person. He, "of course" wasn’t going to church. Before we left he said, "Can you give me a word of wisdom for my life?"

I said, "Yes, three words: ‘Trust in Jesus!’" He said, "Oh, that’s a tough one."

The answer to our need for happiness lies not in material things or in intellectual understanding but in the openness of our heart to our Savior. That’s what the cross says: Come here, surrender to this act of love, and you’ll find the meaning of your life.

This gift of love from the Father is the only thing that will make us happy now and forever.

The cross shows us the way to be a follower of Jesus. What did Jesus say? If you want to be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me. (Mk 8:34) And I’ve been able to do that in a little way.

Jesus said, if you want to be my disciple, leave your father, mother, brother, sister, wife, children, lands and you will have a hundredfold (See Mk 10:29). I find that to be true. I have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, in every land. People who say, "Can I help you? Come to my house. Stay with me tonight. Can I do anything for you?"

They want to give me money and I say, "I don’t take money, but I take food." So they go to the store and buy me a bag of food and bring it to me.

Or even just a cup of water. I never refuse an offer of water because Jesus said if you give a cup of cold water to one of my little ones, you will have your reward in heaven (See Mt 10:42). I don’t want them to lose their reward. And usually I’m thirsty. If you’ve ever walked, you know you get thirsty and tired and hungry.

But this is nothing when you do it out of love. Love makes the suffering a joy. How did Jesus endure the cross? Because he knew it was his Father’s will and he did it out of love.

How could the martyrs accept the tortures? They could because they knew that God loved them, that they were his children, and they had nothing to fear.

This is the secret to being a Christian—to know that God your Father loves you infinitely, perfectly. If you are his child, what bad can happen to you? He wouldn’t let anything permanently or spiritually bad happen, though he might allow suffering. Look what suffering he allowed his Son whom he loved!

But knowing God’s love for us sets us free from fear of pain or suffering or illness or failure or rejection or all the things that the world fears.

The cross is an invitation to open our heart to God’s love. The cross shows us how much he loves us, so much so that he gave his only Son for us, to suffer for us and to save us.

When I wish you the peace of Jesus, I’m wishing you a peace that the world does not know. It isn’t the peace that you get from a nice sunset in the woods, or the peace you get even from meditation or from being with friends.

The peace that Jesus gives, that only he can give, is the peace that comes from the forgiveness of our sins. What did Jesus say when he appeared to his apostles after his Resurrection? "Peace be with you." He was forgiving them for abandoning him. That set them free from their guilt.

The cross is a sign that our sins have been forgiven. The world cannot handle the guilt that comes from sin. The best it can do is try to explain it through psychology. It can’t solve the problem of sin. Only the cross and the blood of Jesus can do that.

So as a pilgrim I walk in the freedom of a child of God, and in the peace of knowing my sins are forgiven. I walk without fear, because I know I am loved.

I have told the Lord that I will walk until he comes back again or until he takes me home to heaven, whichever comes first. I said, "You can take me, Lord, any time, any place, any way you want."

What does it matter if it’s by accident or sickness or whatever? For a Christian, death is just the gateway to heaven. So why should we be afraid? We should be looking forward to it.

If we are afraid of suffering and death, it shows that we really don’t believe Jesus has risen and overcome death. Death is not the end; it’s the beginning of eternal life.

If we are afraid of death, we need to ask Christ for the power of his love to set us free from this fear.

Adapted from a talk given in Madonna House on Pilgrim George’s visit in 2001. It originally appeared in Restoration in October 2001.

 

 

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