Today as they walk the pilgrims are beginning to reflect on Jesus’s public ministry. The scripture passage is Matthew 3:13-17 in which Jesus goes to be baptised by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. I suggested that they reflect particularly on verses 16 and 17:
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
The grace we are praying for: I suggested that the pilgrims pray for the grace to hear God say to each of them individually, “(John, Michael, Jan, Sandra, Amanda, Vin, Helen, Paddy, Joe, Tracy, Patrick, Stephen, Peter, Chona…) you are my beloved (son, daughter), whom I love, with you I am well pleased.”
Reflection: John the Baptist calls sinners to repentance and to conversion. I suggested that conversion is not just religious, but that there are five different sorts of conversion: (i) religious, (ii) intellectual, (iii) affective, (iv) personal moral, and (v) socio-political. (Of course each of these conversions interrelate with one another.)
In thinking about the different kinds of conversation I am guided by the work of the late Fr Donald Gelpi SJ who outlines the five conversions in his book The Conversion Experience. To summarise:
A person may be in need of religious conversion if he or she is
- disinterested in the realm of the Spirit
- closed to mystery
- unable to ground his or her existence in the context of God’s love.
A person may be in need of intellectual conversion if he or she is
- biased, muddled in thinking, fundamentalist
A person may be in need of affective conversion if he or she is
- neurotic, psychotic, emotionally rigid, compulsive
- negligibly unaware of his/her own emotions
- low in self-esteem
- a substance abuser
- uncontrollably anxious
- constantly angry
- unable to be intimate
A person may be in need of personal moral conversion if he or she is
- selfish and ethically irresponsible
- obsessed with personal self-gratification
- insensitive to ethical values
- lacking in compassion.
A person may be in need of socio-political conversion if he or she is
- only concerned with privatised living (“I am okay.”)
- tribalistic (concerned only for the welfare of my “tribe”)
- apathetic about social issues
- uninvolved in the political process
- unempathetic for the victims of unjust structures.
Maybe God is calling each of us to a particular conversion during this time of pilgrimage?
The walk today. Although today was a long day on the Ignatian Camino, the terrain was flat as the pilgrims walked along farmers’ roads and past cultivated fields. El Bocal is the first town in which they stopped. It is the starting point of the Imperial Canal of Castilla — an ambitious project commissioned in 1528 by Emperor Carlos V to create irrigation channels fed from the Ebro River. In El Bocal is the Palace of Charles V and in its peaceful gardens the oldest oak tree Navarra can be found. The Camino continues through the towns of Ribaforada, Cortes and Mallén en route to Gallur. You are now in the region of Aragon. At the end of the walk the group was transferred by bus back to the hotel in Tudela.
Peter Walden, who also supplied the photos of today’s walk, writes:
“We prayed hard last night that we would be able to complete this leg knowing it was our longest walk yet (38kms) through hot conditions with minimal shade. We were relieved to wake up this morning to cool and slightly overcast conditions. We started well with the group covering the first leg of 25 kms to Cortez by 2pm where we stopped for lunch at Charly’s Bar. As usual we proceeded to clean the bar of tapas as the hungry pilgrims restocked on carbs. For most of the day we were walking next to a large canal called the Royal Canal of Aragon, that been built high up on the side of a hill so we had panoramic views over the fertile countryside. We also had the benefit of cool wind at our backs of between 10/15 kph which kept the temperatures down. We reached Gallur at 6pm and we were thrilled to see the bus there even though it had been scheduled for 7pm. The group was on a high on the bus and very thankful having completed this challenging leg and all concluded that God had listened to our fervent prayers last night.”