5th Sunday of Easter

Acts 6: 1-7, I Pt 2: 4-9, Jn 14: 1-12

(Eternal life – A big picture – Jesus will show us the way to achieve it) 

A priest was going to preach a retreat in a city in Florida. He decided to send a postcard to his mother back home. Walking out of his hotel, he saw a young boy on a bike and asked where the post office was. The boy gave him directions. The priest thanked him and then invited the boy to church that evening. He told him “If you come to church this evening, I’ll tell you the way to get to heaven.” “I don’t think I’ll be there,” the boy answered. “You don’t even know your way to the post office.”

Dear friends! The way to heaven is not a street we can walk or drive down. Map-quest or Google cannot print us a map that will tell us how to get there. Neither Garmin nor TomTom GPS can show us the way. The way to heaven is a person; it is Jesus himself – the way, the truth and the life. Through and in Jesus, one comes to eternal glory.

The sages of India prayed the “Guru mantra” in Sanskrit language every morning centuries before Christ:  “From falsehood lead me to truth, from darkness lead me to light, from mortality lead me to immortality” (“Aasato Ma Sath Gamaya, Thamaso Ma Jyothir Gamaya, Mrtjyor Ma Amritham Gamaya”). Centuries later Jesus gave the answer to their prayer through his tremendous claim: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

We go to God the Father who is Truth and Life through Jesus and we call Jesus the “Way” because he is the visible manifestation in human form of all that his Father is. To those who teach that all religions lead us to God or that religion is immaterial provided man lead a good life, Jesus has the answer that he is the safest and surest way to God because he came from God and he can lead us to his heavenly Father.

Jesus claims that he is the only way to God. When a Person is a Way for us to get to the Father and everlasting life, that Way is found only in our relationship with Him, that is, in our union with Him in mind and heart, in will and action. But Jesus’ sure way to God is the narrow way of the cross.  It is the least-traveled way of humble, loving, self-giving and committed service to others. To follow the Way of Jesus is to become a special kind of person, a person whose whole being reflects the Truth and the Life that Jesus reveals to us.  It is to be a person of Truth and Life who is totally identified with the vision and the values of Jesus.  The medieval monk Thomas à Kempis the author of Imitation of Christ explains Jesus’ statement, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” thus: “Without the way, there is no going; without the truth, there is no knowing; and without the life, there is no living.” 

Throughout life we have all learned to deal with the ups and downs of life by keeping before our imagination the big picture. Whether a child is practicing the piano or practicing hitting a baseball, they picture themselves performing well someday (keeping in mind the big picture). Whether a parent is going to work every day or trying to teach their child or children the difference between right and wrong, the picture the day when their child or children will be grown, successfully earning a living, perhaps married and raising a family of their own. The big picture. It motivates us, it helps keep us balanced in good times and bad.

Today Jesus is giving us the big, the big picture – Eternal life. He begins and ends this short teaching at the Last Supper with the need to have faith. He knew how devastating it would be for his disciples, who had placed so much faith and hope in him, to see him condemned, tortured and crucified. Yet he tells them not to let their hearts be troubled. They must have faith – in God and in him.

He tells them he’s just going away for a little while and then he’s going to come back and take them to be with himself. All ups and downs we face each day have purpose, but this is our ultimate purpose, our everlasting goal, enjoying eternal life with our Lord and God.

Eternal life for every one of us is really the big picture. It’s the purpose for which we were created. It’s the reason Jesus died on the cross. It’s the hope we celebrate now as we come together in prayer, trusting in God’s love and uniting ourselves with Jesus in his sacrifice of love for us. Achieving eternal is our big project which we all can accomplish with the help of Jesus because is the Way.