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TCC Reads: Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin SJ

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James Martin S.J.

We recommend The New York Times Bestseller Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin SJ. In his most recent book, Fr. Martin sets out to answer Jesus’ question to his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”

Part memoir, part prayerful and scholarly reflection on the Gospels, and part travel narrative, Fr. Martin, visits and describes the actual places in the Holy Land where the miracles and other important events in the life of Christ occurred. For example, he describes what the Sea of Galilee and the Garden of Gethsemane actually look and feel like. So many of these details are left out of the Gospels themselves, and knowing them helps create a much fuller picture of Jesus’ life, and the lives of his friends (people like Mary, Martha and Lazarus). (Below: the Garden of Gethsemane.)

Garden of Gethsemane

Fr. Martin emphasizes both Jesus’ divinity (the miracles did happen) and his humanity (Jesus was a homebuilder and craftsman for thirty years, which is why he uses so many building metaphors). There are observations in this book for believers and nonbelievers alike.

Fr. Martin brings fresh insights to many stories, which may have become stale or domesticated for us, as a result of us having heard them too many times. Even for those familiar with Scripture there are so many fresh takeaways in this book that you won’t want it to end. At one point he writes about the sinfulness of many of Jesus’ disciples, “Imagine all the good that would have never gotten done if Dorothy Day had said: ‘What could God do with me? I had an abortion.’ Feelings of inadequacy are human, as Peter shows us, but we are invited to see them in the light of God’s love.” (Below: The Bay of Parables.)

Bay of Parables (The Holy Land)

If you have meant to learn more about the Bible, go on retreat, pray more, or go on pilgrimage, in the past ten years, but haven’t been able to make all or any of it happen, then this is the book for you. Fr. Martin has dedicated his life to following Jesus and we can glean a great deal from what he has experienced and learned along the way.

– Anna Keating

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