It is easy for an exile to grow weary. Traveling and traversing, walking and waiting, hoping and hungering – all orientation, vision and purpose made threadbare. It is here faith starts all over again.
It is here that faith shows itself truly. Faith was drawn out of us by precious words that pierced our hearts and allowed the deep, unconditional embrace (that is faith) to exalt out of us. This encounter with the words of life (the Word) released in us that ennobling act of the human soul tying us to trembling depths of reality we cannot see for ourselves and allowing us participation in the Source of all radiance and beauty. To remain pure, this faith must be laid bare. To remain real, our faith must be allowed to return back to that initial encounter and let it unfold anew; it must return back to its source.
It is here that we find an essential quality of faith – to remember.
Of the ever-so-many ways our faith can be weakened (usually without our knowing it at first), is not the central theme forgetting who God is, who we are, what God has done and what He has promised? How many times in Scripture, when trials and shaking come, do the people of God have to say something like, “Do you not remember?” When faith is tested and rounded out it is usually in ways of purifying our spiritual memory – allowing the Truth to daily be ‘re-membered’ in us.
“Great, O my God, is this power of memory… It is an immense, an infinite sanctuary; who has ever penetrated to its depths.”… I am thus, as it were, essentially unequal to myself, I am too great for myself. By fathoming this mystery, St. Augustine will be led to recognize first of all that God Himself is in some way in our memory, but that this would naturally be inconceivable if the memory were in us a sort of container. Memory must be in us more than ourselves, so that finally it is in God that we find God… St. Augustine will thus be led to say that when the soul remembers its Lord because it has received the Spirit, it is well aware that it is instructed by the inner agency which the Spirit exerts upon it. It is because God is everywhere in totality that the soul lives and moves in Him and that it can remember Him. (Gabriel Marcel)
An unfaithful person is one who does not remember or who remembers with difficulty. One might go so far as to say that a good memory is a prerequisite to spiritual or moral life. (E.M. Cioran)
We can never overemphasize the significance of having a sound memory… [St. Augustine] considers memory to be the very foundation from which the other two faculties are born. Thanks to memory, I can “remind” myself that I came from God and am related to him. It is memory that enables me to know myself as the same person from birth to death. It is thanks to memory that I know myself to be identical to the person I was ten years ago. My identity is dependent upon my memory. (Fr. Wilfred Stinissen)
And so God is always trying to bring us back to the source:
Then Jesus said to them, “do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10)
Pope Francis fleshes this out:
Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began! To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called. Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets. He had called them, and they left everything and followed him…
For each of us, too, there is a Galilee at the origin of our journey with Jesus. To go to Galilee means something beautiful, it means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience. To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which Gods grace touched me at the start of the journey. From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters. That flame ignites a humble joy – a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay; a good, gentle joy.
In the life of every Christian, after baptism there is also a more existential Galilee: the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission. In this sense, returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him. It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me.
Today, tonight, each of us can ask: What is my Galilee? Where is my Galilee? Do I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it? Lord, help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy.
As it turns out, Disney didn’t do such a bad job depicting this when Simba’s father tells him from the heavens things about having ‘forgotten’ that ‘you are my son’. But above all, he thunders with piercing confidence, ‘Remember…’
Oh Father, helps us never to forget. May You – the real You – be always remembered in our hearts.