5th Sunday of Easter Acts of the Apostles 6:1–7; 1 Peter 2:4–9; John 14:1–12
Five blind men Because Jesus is the Son of God, we have a privileged insight into God and privileged access to him.
Occasionally we hear someone say something like this:
Christians say God is like this. Jews say he is like that. Muslims say he is something else. Buddhists say something different still. I’m so mixed up, I don’t know what to think or who to believe.
When we hear a statement like this, we are reminded of a poem by John Saxe. It’s about five blind men in India who are standing around an elephant, wondering what it looks like.
One of the blind men feels the elephant’s side and says the elephant looks like a wall. Another feels the elephant’s tusk and says it looks like a sword. A third feels the elephant’s trunk and says it looks like a huge snake. A fourth feels its ear and says it looks like a fan. The last blind man feels the elephant’s tail and says it looks like a rope.
Which of the five blind men is right?
Perhaps the best answer is to say that all five of them are right each from his own viewpoint.
Only by dialoguing together can they get a fuller and clearer view of what the elephant looks like.
Some people say this is also the way it is with God. They say:
Jews have one insight into God. Muslims have a second insight into him. Buddhists have a third, and Christians have a fourth. Only by dialoguing together can they get a fuller and clearer view of what God is like.
The question arises, How can one religious group claim to be closer to the truth about God than another group? For example, how can Christians claim to have a more accurate view of God than any other religious group? The answer to that question, of course, is based on the Christians’ faith in Jesus.
Jesus claimed to know God in a way that no other religious leader dared to claim. Jesus did more. He claimed an identity with God that no other religious leader dared to claim.
For example, in today’s gospel, Philip says to Jesus, Lord, show us the Father.
Jesus answers, “For a long time I have been with you all; yet you do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
And elsewhere in John’s Gospel, Jesus says, The Father and I are one. John 10:30
And again, he says, Before Abraham was born, “I Am.” John 8:58
If Jesus is who he says he is, then Christians indeed have access to a personally revealed knowledge of God.
If Jesus is who he says he is, then Christians are blessed in the most remarkable way imaginable.
If Jesus is who he says he is, then Christians have a more accurate view of God than any other religious group. Muhammad acknowledged he was a sinner. Buddha rejected personal veneration. Abraham and Moses would rather have died than have anyone consider them divine in anyway.
Only Jesus alone dared to say:
“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” John 14:11
And only Jesus alone dared to say:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. . . . Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him to life on the last day.” John 6:51:54
And only Jesus alone dared to say:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.” John 8:12
If Jesus is who he says he is, then Christians have privileged access not only to a personally revealed knowledge of God but also to God himself.
And If Jesus is who he says he is, then every other religious leader would agree with the Christian claim. It all hinges on that enormously important question that Jesus asked his disciples in the 16th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
The disciples answered: “Some say John the Baptist. . . . Others say Elijah, while others say Jeremiah or some other prophet.”
“What about you.” he asked them. Who do you say I am.”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
“Good for you, Simon son of John!” answered Jesus. “For this truth did not come to you from any human being, but it was given to you directly by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 16:14–17
This is the good news contained in today’s gospel reading. It is the good news that Jesus, the Son of God, entered our world and taught us about our heavenly Father.
It is the good news that Jesus lived among us in gospel times in a flesh-and-blood body like our own.
It is the good news that Jesus continues to live among us today in a mystical body, his Church on earth.
This is the good news we celebrate in our Eucharist together today.
This is the good news we proclaim to the world as we gather in the Lord’s name, about the Lord’s table, to eat the Lord’s Supper.
Series II 5th Sunday of Easter Acts of the Apostles 6:1–7; 1 Peter 2:4–9; John 14:1–12
Two journeys Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.
In the spring of 1927, a shy young man climbed into a small plane in New York. The plane taxied down the runway and then lifted into the air.
Thirty hours later the young man landed his plane in Paris. As he taxied to a stop, thousands of people surged forward from all directions, almost crushing the young man and his plane.
Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean.
Days later President Coolidge had the famous pilot and his famous plane, the Spirit of Saint Louis, put aboard a ship, the U.S.Memphis, and brought home to a hero’s welcome in New York.
Writing about the adventure later, Lindbergh recalled two exciting episodes.
One occurred as he neared Europe. Spotting a fishing boat in the ocean, he flew low over it, shouting at the very top of his voice, asking directions.
But the fishermen couldn’t understand him. So he continued on in the direction he thought was right. Fortunately, it was.
The second episode occurred a few days after the history-making crossing. Lindbergh had flown to England for something and was returning to France.
But the visibility was bad, and he was having a hard time navigating, using only ground landmarks. Suddenly he spotted a plane ahead of him. Assuming it was on its way to Paris, he caught up with it and followed it.
Fortunately, the plane was on its way to Paris, and he arrived safely at his destination.
As we reflect on the adventurous trip of Charles Lindbergh, we find that we have a lot in common with him.
We too are on a journey. We are journeying through life on our way to our Father in heaven.
Like Lindbergh, we feel we know the way and can reach our destination. But like Lindbergh, we sometimes lose our way temporarily. We become lost and need help.
When this happened to Lindbergh, he turned to a boat full of fishermen, but they couldn’t help him. Fortunately, he managed without them. He was lucky.
He also sought help by following another plane, which he hoped was going to Paris. Fortunately, it was, and he made it back safely.
It’s right here that our situation becomes different from Lindbergh’s.
When he became lost and needed help, he had no one he could turn to. He had to rely on his own ingenuity and a certain amount of luck.
In our situation, however, we have sure guidance that we can rely on at every moment in our journey.
And that sure guidance is none other than Jesus Christ.
He has made the journey before us and knows the way. And he can guide us on every step of our journey to the Father.
This explains Jesus’ words in today’s gospel, when he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.”
Jesus is our guide on our journey through life to the Father. Apart from him there is no other sure guide.
Moreover, we know that he will never let us down. “Whoever follows me,” Jesus said, “will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.” John 8:12 This brings us to a second point about Jesus.
He is not only the “way” to the Father but also the “truth” about the Father.
In this day and age, when there is so much confusion about God, it’s a great gift to be able to turn to Jesus and learn the truth: that God isn’t an uncaring force, but a loving, merciful Father. And this brings us to the third and final point about Jesus.
Not only is he the “way” to the Father and the “truth” about the Father; he also contains within himself the very “life” of the Father.
Our journey is not just a journey in this life. It is a journey into another life. It is a journey into eternal life.
And we could never make that journey if we did not receive from Jesus Christ the seed of eternal life in baptism.
Through baptism, Jesus makes it possible for us to die to our own life of sin and to rise to a new life with him. And this brings us to each one of us in this church today. What can we do to thank Jesus who is the way, the truth, and the life for all he has done for us?
First of all, we can follow Jesus, who is the way to the Father, even when we don’t feel like it. Jesus said, “If any of you want to come with me . . . you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Second, we can grow in our knowledge of Jesus, who is the truth about the Father.
Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. . . I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” John 14:9–10
Finally, we can receive Jesus, who is the life of the Father, into our beings.
Jesus said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them to life on the last day.” John 6:54 In brief, then, Jesus in the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him. Let us close with a prayer:
Lord, you are the way to the Father. Help us pick up our cross daily and follow you along that way.
Lord, you are the truth about the Father. Help us grow in our knowledge of you and the Father. Lord, you are the life of the Father. Help us open ourselves more fully to you, especially through our worthy reception of your sacraments. M.L.
Series III 5th Sunday of Easter Acts of the Apostles 6:1–7; 1 Peter 2:4–9; John 14:1–12
Jesus The way, the truth, and the life.
J esus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father, except by me.” John 14:6
Dr. Lin Yutang was a famous Chinese scholar and philosopher. He wrote a provocative book called From Pagan to Christian. In it, he tells how he grew up Christian, in China, but abandoned his faith shortly after he left college. He writes:
For 30 years my only religion was humanism: the belief . . . that progress in knowledge alone would automatically bring a better world. . . .
Then below the surface of my life, a disquiet was born . . . I saw that man’s increasing belief in himself did not seem to be making him more Godlike. . . . As my humanism thus declined, I increasingly asked myself: Is there a satisfying religion for the modern, educated man?
At this point, Dr. Yutang began a serious study of world religions. One Sunday, during this period, he happened to be in New York. His wife, who was a Christian, persuaded him to attend church with her. Somewhat reluctantly, he agreed.
As he listened to the Gospel reading, he was suddenly struck by the awesome simplicity and beauty of Jesus’ teachings.
Dr. Yutang left the church that Sunday morning knowing exactly what he must do.
He began to immerse himself in a study of the Gospels and of the life and teachings of Jesus.
He said that as he probed the Gospels more deeply, it seemed as though he were reading them for the first time. They were refreshingly new and exciting.
What was even more amazing was that the passages, like those in today’s Gospel, seemed addressed directly to him.
It was if Jesus had stepped out of the pages of the Gospel, looked into his eyes, and said to him personally:
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father, except by me. For a long time I have been with you . . . yet you do not know me . . .
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. . . . Do you not believe . . . that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. John 14:6, 9, 11
Suddenly, a lifetime of searching fell into place. It was as though scales fell from his eyes, as they did from the eyes of Saint Paul after his experience of Jesus on the road to Damascus.
God was no longer a far-off being to be feared, but a close-at-hand Father, to be loved. God was someone to whom he could turn at any time, in any place, for any reason.
And so Dr. Yutang’s long journey to God continued exactly where it began: following in the footsteps of Jesus. Return your thoughts to each one of us in this Church.
Perhaps, like Dr. Yutang, some of us stopped walking with Jesus for some reason. Perhaps we may be struggling right now with our commitment to follow Jesus.
Regardless of what our situation is, hopefully, the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel will impact on us as they did Dr. Yutang. For, indeed, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the way to the Father. Saint Ambrose, who was so instrumental in leading Saint Augustine to Jesus, spoke for many people when he said:
After we have traveled all ways, we shall come to the End of all ways. We will come to him who says, “I am the way.” He simply put in a concise way what both Saint Augustine and Dr. Yutang had found out after years of struggle.
Jesus is the way to the Father, because he alone, of all people who ever lived, came from the Father.
“Whoever follows me,” said Jesus, “will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 Jesus is also the truth about the Father. In this day and age, when there is so much confusion about God, what an incredible blessing it is to be able to turn to Jesus and learn the truth about God.
God is not some uncaring force. God is a loving, merciful Father.
Finally, Jesus is the life of the Father. He said:
I have come . . . that you may have life life in all its fullness. John 10:10
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:54 Our spiritual journey is not just another routine journey. It is the most important journey we will ever make. It is the journey we were created to make.
It is the journey to eternal life, where there will be no more death, no more grief, no more tears, no more pain, only the joy and love. We could never make that journey were it not for Jesus who knows the way, shows us the way, and goes the way with us. Let us close with a prayer:
Lord Jesus, you are the way to the Father. Help us pick up our cross daily, no matter how difficult it is, and follow you along that way.
Lord Jesus, you are the truth about the Father. Help us open our minds to that truth, that we may share it with so many who are still searching for it.
Lord Jesus, you are the life of the Father. Help us grow in that life and live it in such a way on earth as to rejoice with you forever in heaven.