5th Sunday of Easter Year A 2017:
“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” Jesus leads us to the Father. He is the only pathway to heaven. And how blessed we are to have Jesus as our guide. I know I can say that this can be a crazy and confusing world we live in. How many of us would be lost, wandering around without hope if it weren’t for Jesus? He is our guide to heaven. This is why it is so important for us to listen to Jesus’ voice, for us to know his words and his teachings. Jesus wants to lead us to heaven if we listen to his voice and follow his commands.
But his commands can certainly be challenging. Which one is the most difficult? I’m sure each of us might list a different command: Love your enemy and pray for your persecutor; turn the other cheek; do not look at another with lust; forgive not 7 times but 77 times; love one another as I have loved you. Yes, Jesus gives us some tough commands, but he gives us these commands to lead us to heaven.
But, in my opinion, one of the toughest commands that he gives is found in today’s gospel: Do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith. Do not let your hearts be troubled, don’t worry, don’t fear, don’t have doubts, these things do not lead us to heaven. Faith leads us to heaven, doubt, fear, anger, and anxiety will not lead us there.
But, I’ll freely admit that this is a struggle for me in my own life. Anxiety, stress, and worry can really be a problem for me, especially in the last couple months. Unfortunately, it’s been a really tense 2 months here at St. Jude’s. We’ve had some great things going one: Easter, First Communion, Confirmation, weddings, etc. All great, all beautiful; but also quite stressful. But, all these events coincide with our annual budgeting process, which is also quite stressful.
I don’t know about you, but life just always gets more stressful. When I was in high school I thought: once I graduate and move out of the house, all my problems will go away. Then what happened? I found out that you have to pay bills and if you bounce checks it’s a real problem, etc. More stress. Then I went into the seminary. I thought, going back to school and all my troubles will go away. Then I found I had to write papers, read tough books, do service, learn how to pray and how to be a priest. At the time I thought all that stuff was stressful. Then I got ordained and found out that seminary was a like a vacation. Now there were masses, funerals, weddings, confessions, appointments. And that’s before I became a pastor. Now as a pastor I have all that stuff, plus the stresses of managing a whole parish.
What’s my point? I’m sure everyone here feels the same way. Life always seems to get more stressful, more difficult.
Jesus knew this would happen to his disciples too. That’s why he says: do not let your hearts be troubled. If you notice trouble in your hearts, resolve to defeat it, overcome it. Jesus tells us that faith is the key. By listening to Jesus voice, by following his commands, we will have hearts filled with faith. No stress, turmoil or problem will bring us down. Now, this doesn’t mean that we won’t have stressful situations in our life, but they won’t be able to take over.
As we celebrate this holy Eucharist we ask Jesus to strengthen that precious gift of faith. We ask him to fill our hearts with his goodness so that we can fulfill his wonderful command: do not let your hearts be troubled.