Homilies – May 2014
FIFTH SUNDAY of EASTER (YEAR A)
11am MASS, ST CHRISTOPHER’S CATHEDRAL, 18 May.
ACTS 6:1-7; 1 PETER 2:4-9; JOHN 14:1-12
Over these weeks since Easter Sunday we have been listening carefully to the Scriptures from the Acts of the Apostles.
Sometimes the Acts of the Apostles are called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. We see the embryonic Christian Church developing under the inspiration and impulse of the Holy Spirit.
In today’s reading from Acts we hear of some pastoral and structural problems emerging. The Hellenists and the Hebrews are in vigorous discussion. Some are being fed and others are not. We then see how the early Church has it’s eyes fixed on Jesus and works on these practical problems in a way that does not neglect the proclamation of the word of God and the unity of the early Church. Let us learn from their missionary and pastoral life that is worked out step by step!
A key to all of this is found in the second reading. St Peter tells the early Church that they must “set yourselves close to him”. There’s the pastoral secret! No matter what difficulties we find ourselves as we progress towards the Lord’s second coming we must always set ourselves close to Jesus.
This is explained in a definitive form in the words of Jesus himself in today’s Gospel.
Both Sts Thomas and Philip are trying to make sense of the Christ event in today’s Gospel which comes from the Farewell Discourses of the Lord at the Last Supper. The early Church must have reflected back on these intimate moments that they shared with the Master in the days before he suffered and died and rose from the dead. They would have certainly remembered him speaking in self-definition by saying “I am the way the truth and light. No one can come to the Father except through me”.
Here we have the most definitive definition of the place of the Lord Jesus in our lives. And this definition comes from Jesus himself.
I think it’s best to explore this seminal definition on two levels. The first level, our personal appropriation of this definition, and secondly our communal appropriation.
Firstly on the personal level, each one of us must be able to say from the sincerity of our heart that Jesus is my way, Jesus is my truth, Jesus is my life.
Belonging to the Catholic Church must be rooted in profound encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus. We must be able to say from the depth of our being through this encounter, that Jesus has become my way, my truth and my life. Jesus is not any “way”. His way is not one amongst many different ways. It is the only way. Jesus is not only the journey but also the destination. Jesus is the highway itself. We’re not talking about some road map or some GPS. We’re talking about the Son of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. He must become our Lord and Saviour. This is the basic message of the first proclamation. That is, “Jesus is Lord”.
But Jesus is also my truth. We are presented in Australian life with many different types of “truths”. The truth of Jesus Christ is not one truth amongst many. Jesus is not simply a great historical figure or a great miracle worker. He is also not somebody who’s told great stories and parables. He is the Son of God. He is the truth of God. Nobody can come to God the Father except through, with, and in Jesus. And the Father comes to us through, with, and in Jesus. We sometimes use the word “Sacrament” in regard to who Jesus is in this regard.
Jesus is also the life. He is my life. In Australia today, we are presented with many different types of lives. These different types of lives can be lived out part-time or fulltime. But there is only one life that Jesus offers – eternal life. When we give ourselves to Jesus we are giving ourselves not only in this life but the life to come. No other life “can promise this!”
However, secondly, the proclamation that Jesus is the way the truth and life is a communal proclamation.
We now say that Jesus is our way. We recall the early Christian Church in embryonic form described itself as “the way”. The early Church saw itself as the way of Jesus. It saw itself, imbued with the Holy Spirit, as the continuation of Christ’s presence in the world today. We still live that out as the Catholic Church today.
Jesus is also our truth. Truth is not some sort of subjective buffet where we can pick and choose what we want. We can’t say that we like this particular truth of the Catholic Church and reject this other truth of the Catholic Church. It’s all together. We always note that the expression of our Catholic truth is one thing but the content is another. I’m referring here to the content of our Catholic faith. It is the truth. It is given to us by Jesus. It is our way to the Father.
And we also say that Jesus is our life. The life of Jesus, we say, begins at Conception and goes to natural death. It is a life that is lived under the shadow of the Calvary Cross. It is the life that imitates to the world the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is this particular type of life that draws us to eternal life.
As we continue with our Mass let us receive the nourishment from Word and Sacrament, to be able to live out both personally and communally the great proclamation that Jesus is “the way the truth and the life”.