Fifth Sunday of Easter -A

“I am the way, the truth and the life.”
Actions speak louder than words. We have heard these words many times and our reactions could be either in conformity with it or it does not affect us at all. Today we live in a world dominated by Technology and progress. These are human achievement and they need to be appreciated, but there is a question that we need to answer whether we have forgotten God, who is the author of everything. If we have lost sight of the gospel values and the person of God form our lives, then we need to introspect and see where we are going and what we want to achieve in our life. We need to realize that all the progress is a means for us to achieve the end for which we are created. St. Augustine says that we have been created for God and we cannot rest until we rest in him. Esmeralda Solis was the beauty queen of Mexico in 2016. At the age of twenty she had everything she wanted, but she felt within herself that God is calling her to follow him closely. On 25th March 2017 she becomes a novice of the Poor Clares of Blessed Sacrament.

The disciples are gathered together with Jesus on the last Thursday night of his life in the Upper Room for the Last Supper. The departing Jesus instructs them about how they may preserve his memory and carry on his mission. As his final hours on earth approach, Jesus prepares his disciples by explaining to them the full significance of what will happen. He will return to his Father and send them the gift of the Holy Spirit. And after dedicating their lives to leading others to Faith through the power of that Holy Spirit, they will be reunited with him in his Father’s house. “I am going to prepare a living space for you, a mansion, a place for you for all eternity… I will come again and take you to that place.”

The early Christians had to face persecutions and were struggling to maintain their Christian identity. John in his message was attempting to give courage and hope to people who found themselves in the midst of a very nasty fight with their passionate and fanatical Jewish neighbors in the Synagogue. It is clear that John’s aim was pastoral, an attempt to comfort those friends of his who were afraid and who needed assurance. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in Me… “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
”My Father’s house:” When St. John Chrysostom was summoned before the Roman Emperor Arcadius and threatened with banishment, he replied, “You cannot banish me, for the world is my Father’s house.” “Then I will kill you,” exclaimed the Emperor angrily. “No, you cannot,” retorted Chrysostom, “because my life is hidden with Christ in God.” “Your treasures shall be confiscated,” the Emperor replied grimly. “Sir, you can’t do that because my treasures are in Heaven as my heart is there.” “I will drive you from your people, and you shall have no friends left,” threatened the Emperor. “That you cannot do either, Sir, for I have a Friend in Heaven who has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’”
John’s central message is that Jesus is both the revealer and the Revelation of God. If we wish to know who God is, what God thinks and what God wants of us, we must attend to Jesus the Word of God. “The Jesus of the Gospel does not only show us the way – his life of humble and generous service is the way; he does not just philosophize about a concept of truth – he is the perfect Revelation of the truth about a God of enduring and unlimited love for his people; he is not just a preacher of futuristic promises – he has been raised up by God to a state of existence in God to which he invites all of us. In embracing the Spirit of his Gospel and living the hope of his Word, we encounter, in Christ, God Himself.”
Jesus is the Way. 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. The founders of other religions had either wrong ideas about the way to God or they were not sure guides. Lao-Tse (604-531 BC), the founder of Taoism said: “Get rid of all desires, you will have a contented life on earth, but I am not sure about the next life.” Buddha taught people to reach self-realization through total detachment and “nirvana,” but he was not sure if these would lead one to God. Confucius confessed that he did not know of an eternal life or the way to attain it. However, 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.”
Jesus is the Truth. Gandhi said, “God is truth.” Jesus is the Truth because he is the only one who reveals to us the whole truth about God. He teaches us that God is a loving, merciful, providing and forgiving Father. He also teaches us the truth that our Triune God lives in each one of the believers. Jesus is the Truth also because he has borne testimony to truth, demonstrating through his life and death the love of God for human beings. Truth here is that complete integrity and harmony which Jesus himself revealed, not only in what he said and did, but in the total manifestation of his life and person. Jesus is the Truth, the Word of God. To seek the truth elsewhere is to stumble and fall, to deal in falsehood and lies. So we pray the 86th Psalm, “Teach me thy way, O Lord, and I will walk in thy truth.” For us to live the Truth in that Way is also to be fully alive, to be a “fully-functioning person,” responding totally to that abundance of life which Jesus has come to give us.
Jesus is the Life. As God, Jesus has eternal life in himself. In addition, he is the one who gives us his life-giving Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Life also in the sense that he allows us to share in God’s Life through the Sacraments. Christ rose from the dead for two reasons: first, to give us eternal life; second, to make us fully alive now. His Spirit animates every moment of our lives. To be fully alive is to be in God.
If we had more of Jesus in our lives we would have less fear, worries and anxieties. We would still have problems. God never promised that we would not have problems. Jesus himself had a big problem; he was sentenced to death as a common criminal. But Jesus rose on the third day and Jesus will help us rise above our difficulties also because as the second reading stated Jesus is the “living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet 2:4) If we try to live without Jesus, life will not go nearly as well for us as when we have Jesus at the center of our lives. We can overcome problems better with Jesus in our lives than without Jesus. If we turn our backs on Jesus how can we expect to succeed? Let us focus on Jesus and not on the problems. Again as our second reading stated, “Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.” (1 Pet 2:6) When we have problems, let us turn to Jesus who is always waiting for us.