by Rev. Robert Wagner
To Sunday Gospel Reflections Index
John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
"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.
Picture a family driving to the beach for vacation. The younger children cannot contain their excitement and so thus persistently ask, “Are we there yet?” Their focus is the destination, and it fills them with joy and anticipation. They care little for the preparation for the trip; they just want to get there and start having fun. The parents, on the other hand, concern themselves with the many tasks necessary for a smooth trip, such as packing suitcases and lunch boxes, filling the gas tank, planning the route and checking the traffic. For them, the joy of the destination often gets lost in the details. Yes, they want their children to laugh and play and have fun, but it takes a lot to make that happen, and such preparation often takes away from the joyful anticipation.
When we think of our journey through this earth to eternal life, we recognize something similar. We can get so caught up in our overwhelming schedules and responsibilities that we are distracted from our final destination. Jesus tells us that He will prepare a place for us with His Father in heaven, a promise that undergirds the courage of the martyrs and helps the saints remain joyful amid the difficulties and drudgery this life can offer. It should — and can — do the same for us. Like little children, we as Christ's disciples can revel in the destination that Jesus has promised us, even while we share the joys and sorrows of this life. However, like diligent parents, we also know there is a necessary preparation to reach heaven. We cannot simply expect to arrive there without knowing the way and being equipped for the journey.
When Jesus tells His apostles they are to follow Him to His Father’s house in heaven, the apostle Thomas asks, “We do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus responds, “I am the way and the truth and the life,” words which may have confused the apostles at first, but through the help of the Holy Spirit would provide strength, peace and joy for them in their trials to come. Two thousand years later, Jesus as the way, the truth and the life offers clarity on our journey, because He provides both the route and the preparation we need for our heavenly journey.
It is important to recognize that Jesus says He is “the way” and not “a way.” We hear St. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaiming: “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus Christ is the way to salvation and eternal life. In Him alone we are saved.
Reflection on Jesus as “the way” bears much fruit, for it reveals the love He has for each of us and for His bride, the church. Jesus is the way to eternal life because He has redeemed us in our flesh and opened the gates of heaven for each of us. He is the way because our salvation comes through our encountering Him and His saving grace in the sacraments. Through His teaching, upheld by the church, Jesus provides the way of life that leads to the life He promises. Similarly, Jesus tells us He is “the truth,” so we know we can trust His teaching and His promises. He is the source of all truth, both revealed and scientific.
As Christians, we praise God for offering us not only the unimaginable gift of eternal life in heaven, but also the means of reaching that glorious destination in the only begotten Son of God — the way, the truth and the life. Let us ask Jesus for the enlightenment to always place our faith in the truth with which He guides us, especially in these times when so many of His teachings are attacked or diminished. Through His grace, we will follow His way with faithful perseverance, peace and joy.
To Sunday Gospel Reflections Index