The journey, the pilgrimage, the desire to get there, are such a large part of human life. Roadside parks and various comfort stations along the way offer temporary relief, but the road constantly beckons the traveler.
Israel has had a long journey from prosperity through infidelity and back again. The Temple has been rebuilt and there is promise of more than a comfort station offered in today's First Reading. The people of Israel had been longing for the consolation of their holy home during their exile. In their own national history, they had stopped at various wayside altars in the false hope that they could worship that god and end the searching. Today's first reading is from the end of the prophecies from the Book of Isaiah. The picture given is that of a mother nursing her whimpering baby.
Jerusalem, as the city of God, is the terminus for God's people and, like a loving mother, God has been waiting to embrace all those who have kept faithful to the long road back. Acceptance, welcome, nourishment and a sense of being back home are promised and all within the experience of great joy for God and for God's children.
In today's Gospel we hear Jesus saying, "Go on your way." He is preparing a large group to get going, but with some definite instructions about the manner with which they are to go. Instead of a securing-sense offered by having maps, Jesus tells his followers that following Him now means trusting the unknown and indefinite so that God's motherly care for them will be known.