Jesus the way

Fifth Sunday of Easter- Follow Jesus the way, the truth and the life into the Father’s dwelling place.

Jesus tells us today that he is not somebody who has learnt the way to the Father. He, himself is the way to the Father. Jesus Christ together with the Father and the Holy Spirit are one. To know Jesus is to know the Father and the Holy Spirit and vice- versa. To get to the place that Jesus has prepared for us is to follow in his footstep, to live his very life and to heed his teachings. He, himself is the word of God, the truth; he is the way that leads to salvation; he is the life of the faithful. With this assurance, he tells us that we should not let our hearts be troubled; we should put our faith in God, because there is a place for each of us in his Father’s Kingdom. Our faith requires that we be engrafted to Jesus, the true vine, whose branches we are. It requires that we find the human face of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Our faith is a call to look at Jesus Christ, to see what he does, listen to what he teaches, watch how he behaves, how he loves, what and whom he prefers and goes with, where and with whom he takes his meals, how and whom he reprimands or defends, because he is the human face of God.

These were the norms that guided the infant Church faced with so many situations of uncertainty. They resorted to the guidance of the apostles and the Holy Spirit in discerning steps to take to resolve the various problems they faced without the physical presence of Jesus Christ with them. Those problems faced by the early Church increased with the increase of the number of believers with various cultures and backgrounds. In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we are presented with one of such issues faced by the infant church. It was about social services and distribution of food between the Jewish and the Greek believers in the Jerusalem Christian community. The solution given by the Apostles led to the creation of the deaconate program to ensure the balance between prayer and work of charity. Faith in Jesus Christ requires prayer and good works. Jesus did not only preach the gospel, he also did works of charity. He healed the sick, raised the death to life, cleansed lepers, he made the deaf to hear, made the mute to speak, made the lame to walk, the blind to see. He also fed the hungry crowds. He asked that the poor be given alms, etc.

Today, many debate about the primary mission of the Church in the world. In everything we do, each of us is called to prayer and worship, as well as some service to others in need. Having faith, that is believing must go hand in hand with corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The primary works of the apostles are prayer and preaching, called to be ambassadors of Christ, their Lord, they found service to the widows and the needy in the community, of great importance as well. That is why, they asked the community to nominate seven men of good reputation on whom they lay their hands to be entrusted with the work of sharing at table. They became the first seven deacons of the holy Church.

St. James would stress the importance of faith and good works when he says that faith without good works is dead (see James 2: 14-26). That is why the holy church all through the ages have encouraged charity, that is corporal works of mercy and through the papal encyclicals all through the ages, promote social justice as the highest form of charity. In this way, our faith in Jesus Christ will not just be speculative, but be concrete. Then, Jesus Christ the way, the truth and the life will come alive in us, his disciples. In this way we will have a place in our Father’s house as Jesus Christ has assured us.

This is the type of faith to which St. Peter invites us when he calls us through the waters of baptism to come to the Lord, a living stone, rejected by men but approved, nonetheless, and precious in God’s eyes. By this faith, we too shall become living stones being built as an edifice of spirit, into a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. On this condition, we will claim our right to be a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people God has claimed to be his own to proclaim the glorious works of the one who called us from darkness into his marvelous light.