The jubilee calls for us to set out on a journey and to cross boundaries. When we travel, we do not only change place physically, but we also change ourselves. Hence, it is important to prepare ourselves well, to plan the route, and learn about the destination. In this sense, the Jubilee pilgrimage begins before the start of the journey itself: the starting point is the decision to set out. The etymology of the word “pilgrimage” is quite telling and has undergone little change in meaning over the years. The word comes from the Latin “per ager,” meaning "across the fields," or perhaps from “per eger” meaning “border crossing”: both possible origins point to the distinctive aspect of undertaking a journey.
In the Bible, Abraham is described as a person on a journey: “Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house” (Genesis 12:1). With these words Abraham begins his adventure, which ends in the Promised Land, where he is remembered as a “wandering Aramean” (Deuteronomy 26:5). Jesus’ ministry can also be seen as a journey, from Galilee to the Holy City of Jerusalem … “As the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, he made up his mind and set out on his way to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51). Christ himself calls His disciples to walk this road, and even today Christians are those who follow him and set out after Him.
The journey takes place gradually: there are various routes to choose from and places to discover; it is made up of particular sets of circumstances, moments of catechesis, sacred rites and liturgies. Along the way our traveling companions enrich us with new ways of understanding things and fresh perspectives. Contemplation of creation is also part of the journey and helps us to realize that care for creation “is an essential expression of our faith in God and our obedience to his will” (Pope Francis, Letter for the Jubilee 2025). Pilgrimage is an experience of conversion, of transforming one's very being to conform it to the holiness of God. During the pilgrimage, one also shares in the experience of those who, for various reasons, are forced to leave their homelands to seek a better life for themselves and their family.