Monday, May 19, 2014

Homily for Fifth Sunday of Easter – cycle A - "I am the way ... the truth ... and the life."

Readings:  Acts 6:1-7; 1 Peter 2:4-9;  – Gospel  – John 14:1-12

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you know me, then you will also know my Father.  From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.  The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.  Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”


The scene of this scripture passage is the Last Supper. The apostles are confused.  Jesus was just given a triumphant entrance into the city.  He is at the pinnacle of his popularity. The people are ready to crown him their King – their Messiah. He had what the world says is valuable fame, popularity, success. Yet right at this moment of triumph, he tells them he is going to be put to death.  Then he gets down on his hands and knees and washes their feet like a slave.  And He tells them, “I am going to prepare a place for you. Where I am going you know the way.”

They are reeling.  They are in shock. They are totally confused.  Their world has been turned upside down.  Thomas and Philip say:  Where are you going?  Master we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?  Master just show us the Father that will be enough!

They don’t get it. They don’t see what’s going on.  They don’t understand that He came to give his life away … for us … for our salvation.  They don't understand that he came to die and then go prepare a place for us with him. 

They did not understand that this was His ultimate goal, his reason for coming, to prepare a place for us with the Father.  Jesus says, and you can almost hear the sadness in his voice, 
“Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me?"

In a way, this scene allows us to be a bit more understanding of our age; an age that also seems confused about Jesus and his mission.  Jesus could say today the same thing as he said that day: 
Have I been with you all this time and you still do not know Me?

He says to us:  
I am the way … 
but many in the world seem so lost, wondering aimlessly, heading the wrong way.
I am the truth … 
and yet so many chose to embrace the lies of the world.
I am the life … 
yet people are living such lifeless lives, depressed, addicted and dying inside.

The problem we face as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, is that ... his way ... his truth ... and his life ... looks crazy to the world.  As St. Peter said it in the second reading, his way - truth - and life have been rejected by human beings.  His ways are a stumbling block for the world.  But for us, they should be the cornerstone on which our lives are built.  The early church the church of the apostles and first deacons, after his death and resurrection, “got it.” So much so, they called their movement “The Way.”  They completely accepted the teaching that believing in Him and living as He lived was the right way to live.

And what is that way? 
It is to believe in the TRUTH that Jesus spoke; and to embrace the WAY of LIFE that Jesus lived.

And how did Jesus live? 
Jesus humbled himself. He became one of us. Being in his very nature God,  he did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage. Rather, he made himself nothing by taking on the very nature of a servant. He took on our humanity and then gave his life so we might live.  Rather than us serving Him, he came to serve us.

Jesus’ way, his truth and life are the opposite of the world’s way. Jesus’ way, his truth and life come from living unselfishly, even sacrificially; humbling ourselves like Him, serving others, giving up our lives so others might live.  When and where do we do this?  Ideally, parents do this, husbands and wives do this, true friends do this, co-workers, neighbors, parishioners do this.  Living as Jesus calls us to live – unselfishly – sacrificially – can be hard; and when it is.  When it isn’t easy serving others, remember what Jesus said that day, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

Whenever living as a Christian,  living the way, the truth, the life that Jesus dares us 
to live seems a bit daunting,  a bit challenging, a bit too counter cultural, a bit uncomfortable.  Read this verse as slowly as you like, and savor it like honey – 
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

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