5th Sunday of Easter 2011
Do not let you hearts be troubled. These are important and beautiful words for us to hear. All of us have had troubles and anxieties in our lives. Jesus commands us not to let our hearts be troubled. Rather, we are to have faith: you have faith in God have faith also in me.
Now, we don't even think about this as being radical today, we all know that we are supposed to have faith in Jesus, but this is a bold claim. It's one thing to have faith in God. Most people would generally admit to believing in some deity, they believe that there is some force in the universe that created everything, some force that holds everything together. Many people believe that there is a god. But, having faith in Jesus is a tall claim. His claim to divinity makes an abstract belief in God alarmingly concrete. No longer is it sufficient to believe simply in the existence of a higher power, Christ tells us that if we are to alleviate our anxieties we have to believe in him.
Believing in Jesus is much more difficult than believing in an abstract force. Jesus is historical: we know where he was born, we know where he lived, we know his mother, we know when and how he died. Jesus is a human being like us in all things but sin. He said specific things, founded a particular Church. To believe in Jesus makes demands upon us. In a sense it is easy to believe in an abstract god because he makes no demands on us, besides maybe that we are to be good… whatever that means. Jesus, on the other hand, makes great demands: whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. Love one another as I have loved you. Jesus makes demands upon us. Why would we want to follow him?
I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me. Do we really believe this? It is a lofty claim! No one comes to the Father except through me. This doesn't seem very inclusive does it? Jesus isn't being very fair here. I mean aren't all religions the same, aren't there many pathways to God? This isn't the place to get into ecumenism or religious dialogues, but as Catholics we believe that Christ is essential. Because, Christ reveals to us not an amorphous force, not a distant watch maker, but a loving Father. Jesus Christ reveals to us the Triune nature of God. And, no one can approach the Father except through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is why Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life, he is the path to the Father, he is the truth about existence, he is the very source of life. Jesus Christ, in his very person, the union of Divinity with Humanity, is the way, the truth, and the life. Notice something interesting here: Jesus does not say: I will show you the way, tell you the truth, and fill you with life. No! He is the way the truth and the life. Because Christ is fully God he is able to repair the damage of original sin: we see him overcoming sin and death by his own death and resurrection. This is what we have been celebrating for the last 5 weeks. Yet, because of his full humanity, we have communion with Christ as our brother. Jesus Christ is the bridge to heaven! He is the way to the Father! In Jesus we see the truth of existence: man united with God. In Jesus Christ we see life: he is no longer bound by death, he is risen. When we say that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life we are recalling our belief: God so loved the world that he sent his son so that all those who believe in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.
In our times of anxiety and trouble, our faith should support us, our faith is certainly important to us. But, our faith is not something distant and abstract. Rather, our faith is as real and concrete as Christ, because our faith is our relationship with Christ. Many people believe in God, do you believe in Christ? Do you have a living and concrete relationship with he who is the way the truth and the life?
The Holy Eucharist is the greatest aid we have in increasing our life of faith. This is the living body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, poured out for our salvation. The Eucharist is living and concrete because Christ is living and concrete.