My apologies for not publishing on our blog lately. There have been internet problems that are just getting fixed.
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, 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, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? 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 say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”
Jesus said,”I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” Are we meant to take this literally? Does that mean that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists and followers of every other religion will not make it to heaven? Does that mean all those others are damned? I do not think so and here is why.
Jesus was a frequent user of metaphors. When he said I am the way, the truth and the life he was telling his followers that his teaching and his example were the way to salvation. If you remember in last week's readings Jesus refers to himself as the good shepherd. In today's reading from John he calls his teachings The Way. Basically Jesus is telling us, his followers, if we do the things he has mapped out for us in his teaching then we will be one with him and one with the Father.
The first Christians didn't call themselves Christians. They were followers of The Way. The Way is not a path that is easily tread. It requires that we not always put ourselves first. We must do all of these messy things like feeding people, welcoming strangers, finding clothes for those who need them and taking the risk of visiting those who are sick. And then, to top it all off we have to love everyone, even the unlovable. Following The Way sometimes leads to the ultimate sacrifice as it did with Stephen. The Way seems to be a very rocky road.
Wouldn't it be easier to just look out for ourselves and do only those things that will directly benefit us?
Even going to church is full of risks. The priest seems to be talking about all those things that make us uncomfortable. If we just stayed home on Sunday mornings we would not be reminded that God expects something of us. I guarantee you that if this is the path in life you choose it will not lead to a sense of fullfillment. It will leave you empty. It will leave you with a hole inside you that cannot be filled.
Jesus tells us to not do all these good things not because it will lead to heaven. He tells us to do them out of love for each other. Doing good seems to have an unusual effect on us. When we do the right thing there is something inside of us that gives us peace and makes us feel fulfilled. The road becomes a little less rocky.