Staying Safe While Travelling, Spiritually

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

If on occasion, you find yourself flying somewhere (presumably on a plane) you are no doubt very familiar with the safety instructions that are dutifully announced at the beginning of the flight. As you settle into your seat for the journey, the flight attendants begin by demonstrating how to fasten and release your seatbelt. They also talk about securing your luggage, the emergency lighting system along the floor, the proper use of oxygen masks, locating the exit doors – “keeping in mind that the closest door might be behind you” – and the floatation devices under the seat – “in the unlikely event of a water landing.”
But a curious thing I’ve noticed is that while the attendants are conscientiously announcing the safety instructions, no one is paying attention to them. The passengers are already too busy – chatting with their friends, wrapping up a cell phone call, plugging in their headphones, reading their tablets, or munching their carry-on pizza – to pay attention to the potentially life-saving instructions of the flight crew.
I guess we passengers have become pretty casual about the safety of flying these days.
It strikes me that this widespread disregard of the airline safety instructions has a parallel in our spiritual journey, namely, that we often disregard the clear instructions Jesus has given us about travelling safely, spiritually.
Jesus has shown us how to defeat Satan, overcome temptation, and avoid sin. He has told us to love God above all things, and our neighbor as ourselves. He has modeled for us the importance of prayer. He has instructed us to keep the commandments, old and new. He has taught us that the path of life involves denying ourselves, taking up the cross and following him. He has warned us about an unhealthy attachment to material things, the dangers of riches, and the hypocrisy of self-righteous religious deeds. He has told us to forgive our brothers and sisters, and to care for our neighbors in need.
In short, Jesus has given us very clear instructions about how to avoid spiritual dangers, travel safely, and arrive happily at our final destination, heaven.
During their instructions, flight attendants often say something like, “Your safety is our first priority.” And Jesus has said to us, “Your salvation is my first priority.” Sadly, many of us are too busy, too jaded, to pay attention to his words.
Something to think about: When you travel, do you pay attention to safety instructions?