on the road

Dec 24, 2018

Have you ever noticed how much of the account of the birth of Jesus involves travellers?

The angel Gabriel was a traveller to the home of Mary, and soon after Mary was on the road to visit her cousin Elizabeth for a three month stay.

Then shortly after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph with their new baby are on the road to Egypt escaping the cruelty of Herod.

In the midst of these great journeys the shepherds make their own pilgrimage to visit Jesus and the Magi are crossing deserts following the star to the greatest light of all, Jesus, Emmanuel, “a name which means God is with us”.

We now see all these journeys in the context of the greatest journey of all time; God’s journey from heaven to earth in Jesus. This is what we celebrate at Christmas.

Perhaps you are on the road or in the air these days travelling to be with family and friends for Christmas. You are in good company.

While our 21st century journeys might be a bit more comfortable than days across deserts by donkey or camel, modern travel still has its challenges, especially when we are tired and ready for vacation.

I suppose this is why the journey has always been a powerful metaphor for human life. Thomas Merton sees the road-traveller as the image of a life-traveller on pilgrimage to God.

The years we spend on earth are a journey and if we don’t know where we are headed we can end up wandering aimlessly instead of journeying purposefully.

The one who journeys with purpose is able to negotiate any obstacle. But the wanderer is forever rudderless, tossed by every whim of fashion in the sea of popular opinion.

“They who have a why to live, can bear almost any how.” (Nietzsche)

An Invitation:

  • Below you will find Thomas Merton‘s Pilgrim’s Prayer. You might like to carry it with you through the day, praying it whenever you get the chance.
  • Also below is a Grace that you might find helpful for Christmas Dinner. Often it is difficult for a group of family and friends with diverse religious beliefs to give thanks together. This Grace with it’s opportunity to remember names and with the use of a candle can help.

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end….
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you,
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road, though
I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem lost in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.


  1. Thank you Father John for the directions you have provided over the past weeks of Advent. It has made the journey smoother and our destination clearer.

    May we all find the gift of God’s love in the baby Jesus as we worship at his manger this Christmas. Emmanuel; Prince of Peace, Wonder Counsellor, MIGHTY GOD, welcome.

    Happy Christmas everyone.

  2. Thank you Father John for this guided Advent journey. May you be blessed and rested as we Celebrate this birth of Jesus, the meaning and purpose to our day. Blessings and love Mary

  3. Many thanks for all the Advent reflections : they helped to keep focus on the true meaning of Christmas!
    A blessed Christmas to all

  4. Father John, many thanks for your gentle guidance as we’ve travelled through Advent. Your emails in the morning have helped centre onto Jesus & His will before the busyness & chores of the day. May the special blessings of the Christ Child be with you and your team.

  5. Thank you Fr John once again for your Reflection. It struck me as I read it that for a modern and predominately secular society, many of us are travelling, making Christmas a family time. And if Jesus is far from the thoughts of many there is a ‘pull’ that makes us want to connect with family and friends at this time. So we can say that Jesus brings us together whether we understand that concept or not.

  6. Many thanks for your beautiful reflections this advent.. A wonderful way to start each day.
    Christmas Blessings.

  7. Thank you Fr John, for these lovely reflections which have been part of my own journey this Advent and the perfect way to start each day. With every blessing for a happy and holy Christmas.

  8. Thank you Father John for your thoughtful and poignant reflections through Advent; they have added depth to my personal journey and inspired me by bringing fresh perspective to my faith. God bless you, Merry Christmas!

  9. Thank you Fr John for the reflections during Advent. May you have a Holy & Blessed Christmas.

  10. Thank you for your wonderful reflections over these past days Father John, we wish you a very blessed Christmas.

  11. Thank you Fr John – wishing you and your team a happy and holy Christmas.

  12. Thank you Father John for helping to guide me on my own journey, by trying to live your suggested focuses for each day of Advent. It has been wonderful. Blessed Christmas to everyone on their own journeys.

  13. Thanks, Fr. John for having been my companion during this Advent. Merry Christmas! In Jesus we are veru close to each other even though we are very distant.

  14. John ,I have enjoyed your Advent programme. I wish you all the blessings of Christmas and look forward to sharing a chat soon. You are always welcome.

  15. Thank you for the lovely advent reflecctions.

  16. I endorse all the messages shared above! These emails have provided a wonderful focus each morning! Thank you for all the care that has gone into them! May the tiny Babe of Bethlehem bless you richly this Christmastide and throughout 2019!

  17. Thank you Fr John for your Advent reflections. They have been quite inspirational. May you have. Happy & Blessed Christmas.

  18. Thank you so much Fr. John for these Advent reflections. They have kept me on track & as sixteen of our family gather we will light the crib candle at the table & say your suggested Grace.

  19. Father John
    Thanks so much for these daily reflections which have helped me to prepare for the birth of the Christ child. I have liked the way you have focussed on the daily readings and given a reflection followed by a practical challenge. I have appreciated your musical reflections also.
    Many blessings on you and on the many people who have responded. It’s wonderful to realise we are all on a journey together!

  20. This advent has been a lovely picturesque journey. The destination is Glorious.
    Thank you for your company Father John.

  21. Thank you for your help on my journey. Your reflections have been inspiring.
    Merry Christmas to you all.

  22. These reflections have been a blessed time in preparation for a blessed Christmas for all. Thank you, Fr John.

  23. Thank you Father John from our family in Easton, Maryland, USA!
    You have given us the gift of a profound Advent!

    Merry Christmas to you and the wonderful people of Christchurch!


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