During my 44-year career in Information Technology I would occasionally have to travel and be away from home for several days, sometimes even a week at a time. When our four children were little, I would sit down on the floor, hold each of them and tell them that I had to be away for a little while, but would be coming back to them very, very soon. That’s kind of what’s happening in the gospel for this coming weekend, the Fifth Sunday of Easter.
The setting of that gospel is the Last Supper, the Passover meal that Jesus is sharing with his closest friends. He knows that he will have to leave them for a while. And he knows how devastated they will be by the terrible things that will happen.
He sits down on the floor, embraces each of them, and promises to come back and take them with him to the Father. He uses the imagery of a house, his Father’s House to, describe eternal life with God. And he bewilders them by saying that not only do they already know how to get there, but they are, in fact already there.
And bewildered they are. Everything they witnessed Jesus do for three years is simply not enough. It all goes over their heads. Thomas wants directions to the Father: a navigation system, or at the very least a roadmap. Philip wants sensory proof: he wants to personally meet and shake hands with the Father.
They just don’t get it. What the disciples seek, they already have. The place they want to be is where they already are. Jesus himself is the map.
The Way to the Father, the road to eternal life, is to live each day like Jesus lived his: with unconditional love and forgiveness; with compassion and inclusion for all – without exception. That, Thomas, is the Way to the Father; that, Philip, is the Father. Each of us is called to be an imitation, a carbon copy of Christ within all the circles of our life.
Jesus gave us that roadmap. He made it clear in the parable of the Last Judgment in Matthew chapter 25, where Our Lord separates the sheep from the goats: “I tell you: Whatever you did or failed to do for the least, the most unwanted, reviled and discriminated against of your sisters and brothers, you did or failed to do for me.”
Sunday’s 1st reading from the Acts of the Apostles is also part of that roadmap. In it the early Christian community is called to love and serve all without distinction. There is no Hebrew and no Greek. There are only beloved children of God. Our 21st century Christian community is still being called to love and serve all without distinction. There is no male or female, no white, black, brown, yellow or red; no gay or straight; no liberal or conservative. There are only beloved children of God.
We are all the living stones Saint Peter speaks about in Sunday’s 2nd reading. We have been called to build the Kingdom of God. We are the stones that God is using to build his eternal dwelling place in the here and now.
Jesus shows us the way to eternal life. Christ himself is the Way. We are each called to be imitations of Christ, to be other-Christs. We are called to be Christ for our world.
Readers of this blog might enjoy these books by Deacon Lex. Both are available on Amazon.com:
Just to Follow My Friend: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life
Synchronicity as the Work of the Holy Spirit: Jungian Insights for Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Ministry