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The True Way to Life

May 15, 2017. Fifth Sunday of Easter – Year A – May 14, 2017

Roman Rite

Acts 6: 1-7; Ps 33; 1Pt 2, 4-9; Jn 14: 1-12

Ambrosian Rite

Acts 10, 1-5, 24, 34-36, 44-48a; Ps 65; Phil 2: 12-16; Jn 14: 21-24

 1) You live where you are loved.

The Gospel of this Fifth Sunday of Easter begins with the invitation of Jesus not to be frightened: “Do not let your heart be troubled” (Jn 14: 1). To the disciples, worried because they are going to witness his passion and death, Christ tells not to be afraid and to have faith in God and in Him. He, with his being with them (and with us), showed the Father and opened the way to the paternal home. With his departure, he gives us the strength to follow him. He who believes in him finds the way of returning home, participates in his life as Son and knows the truth of God as Father. As a response to the fear of suffering and death and to the uncertainty of the future, the Redeemer Messiah says that there is only one way to overcome this fear: faith in God and faith in Him. He is right: only God is the rock. Other certainties disappoint. The love of God is faithful and never abandons us: this is the great certainty that gives comfort to the believer.

Accepting the invitation: “Have faith in God and have faith in me” (Jn 14: 1), is not an abstract adherence to a message, but a loving and confident adherence to a person, Christ, who must be followed on a daily basis in the simple acts that make up our day.

This loving trust allows the words that Jesus says in the following verses: “In my Father’s house there are many dwellings. If not, would I ever say “I’m going to prepare you for a place”? And if I go and prepare you for a place, I will come again, and I will take you to myself, for where I am you also may be“(Jn 14: 2-3) to enter our heart and be understood. What sense do these words have? The meaning of these words is that the real question is not where the Father’s home is, but who the Father’s home is, The Son, his body.

This is why to the question: where does the Father live and where the Son lives? Jesus answers us: “The Father is in me and I am in the Father” (Jn 14:11) because one lives where he is loved. The Father lives fully in the Son who welcomes him, as the Son dwells fully in the Father. Now, in this house of the Father there is place for many, and there are many dwellings. How many dwellings are there in the Father? As many as are the children, because if there was not a place for each of us, he would not be a just and merciful Father.

For this, to the question, where do we live? The answer is: our home is in the heart of the Father.

This answer raises another question: in what sense does Christ, our Brother, prepare us for a place in our “home”? He prepares it in the sense that he makes it known to us, because we did not know that we were children in the Son. Christ reveals to us that we are children and therefore we have a place in the Father. He not only reveals it to us but gives us his love, forgiving and making himself food for us so that through love we also live in the Father and the Father in us.

 2) The Way to the home of True Life.

Already in the Old Testament the believer prayed: “One thing I have asked the Lord, this alone I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to taste the sweetness of the Lord and to admire his sanctuary” (Sal 26 / 27, 4). It must be said that this request for happiness and true love is in the heart of every human being, everywhere and at all times. To the man who seeks the meaning of life, a life that lasts and lives in love, Christ answers “I am the way.” In this regard, Saint Augustine commented: “Before telling you where to go, he has told you through where you have to go and said, ‘I’m the way’. The way to get where? To truth and to life. First, he tells you the way to go then, where you want to go. ‘I am the way, I am the truth, and I am the life’. By staying with the Father, He was truth and life; by taking our flesh, He has become the way. ”

Jesus is the way to come to life, indeed He himself is the life. First of all, He is the life: in fact, it is said “in him was life”, and then that he is the truth because “he was the light of men” (Jn 1: 4). Light is truth. Therefore, if we search where to pass, let us accept Christ because He is the way: “This is the way, go through it” (Is 30, 2).

He is the way to get to the knowledge of truth, indeed he is the truth: Guide me, Lord, into truth and I will walk in your way (see Ps 86, 11). Similarly, he is the way to come to life, indeed, he himself is life: “You have made me know the path (the way) of life” (Ps 16, 11 vulgata).

This way is the way of the accomplished love, the way of the washing of the feet, of the piece of bread given to Judas, of the gift and of forgiveness; it is the way of the Cross, the way that leads us back to the Father’s house. It is the only way, the way of love that makes us to be with him and like Him who loves us.

To walk on the Way of Truth and Life let’s ??take seriously the invitation of Saint Paul when he wrote: “Have among ourselves the same attitude that is yours in Christ Jesus (Phil 2: 5[1]), “He did not stripped any of the constitutive parts of its divine nature, yet it saved me as a healer who is bent on the fetid sores. He was of the lineage of David, but he was the creator of Adam. He carried the flesh, but he was also alien to the body. He was generated by a mother, but by a virgin mother, he was circumscribed, but he was also immense. And he was welcomed into a manger, but a star led the Magi, who came bringing gifts, and bowed his knees before him. He was a victim, but also a high priest. He made a sacrifice, yet he was God. He offered his blood to God, and thus purified the whole world. A cross held him up from the ground, but sin remained nailed. The Immortal Son assumed the earthly form on himself, for He loves you “(see St. Gregory of Nazianzus).

To answer and respond to this fraternal “being loved”, we need to feel as Christ felt. We have to conform our way of thinking to the feelings of Jesus, who had feelings of love and compassion, of humility and of donation, of detachment and of generosity.

That’s not enough. To truly love Christ and to have true love we must keep his commandments. These are the works that testify the feelings.

3) The consecrated life is work and life of love.

All believers are called to witness this love, which is true and vital to the Father’s House, but the consecrated virgins are a special testimony. With the total gift of themselves to Christ, they are particularly grafted in his Heart and made able to love with His love, to give with His heart, to serve with His light, and to work with His gifts. With the full offer of themselves and the joy of their lives these women testify that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life of the world. The consecrated ones are witnesses to this by the eloquent language of a transfigured existence capable of surprise the world. These women respond to the astonishment of men by announcing the wonders of grace that the Lord does in those whom He loves, and humbly respond to Him by accepting Him as a Bridegroom.

These women demonstrate that Jesus is the way because he is the freedom that knows how to give life, and remind us that witnessing is not so much a good example but how to convey the Christian message “by the way” of the example, “by the way” of the word, “by way of” works, and “by way of” a life lived in favor of a truth taken as a value superior to one’s own well-being and life.

Furthermore, they testify that by giving unconditionally to Christ, it is possible to receive true life (the life of God), and that Christ has given us the love of God as our life. In fact, “It is not enough for Christ to be the way, it is not enough to be the truth, He must be the life” (Benedict XVI). Jesus, the Word of the Father, is the Way to find the final objective, Truth so that we do not confuse good with evil, and Life so not to remain slaves of death (Pope Francis).

In short, these consecrated women, by experiencing a personal relationship with Christ, show that He-the Bridegroom- is not only a master from whom one learns something. He is the truth. It is necessary to have a personal relationship with him. Going that way and building a relationship with that truth will bring us to a life thanks to which we are with the Father in his and our house.

Patristic Reading

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Sermon 141

On the words of the Gospel, Jn 14,6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”

1). Amongst other things, when the Holy Gospel was being read, ye heard what the Lord Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”1 Truth and life doth every man desire; but not every man doth find the way. That God is a certain Life Eternal, Unchangeable, Intelligible, Intelligent, Wise, Making wise, some philosophers even of this world have seen. The fixed, settled, unwavering truth, wherein are all the principles2 of all things created, they saw indeed, but afar off; they saw, but amid the error in which they were placed; and therefore what way to attain to that so great, and ineffable, and beatific a possession they formed not. For that even they saw (as far as can be seen by man) the Creator by means of the creature, the Worker by His work, the Framer of the world by the world, the Apostle Paul is wireless, whom Christians ought surely to believe. For he said when he was speaking of such; “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness.”3 These are, as ye recognise, the words of the Apostle Paul; “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men; who detain the truth in unrighteousness.” Did he say that they do not detain truth? No: but, “They detained the truth in unrighteousness.” What they detain, is good; but wherein they detain it, is bad. “They detain the truth in unrighteousness.”

2. Now it occurred to him that it might be said to him, “Whence do these ungodly men detain the truth? Hath God spoken to any one of them? Have they received the Law as the people of the Israelites by Moses? Whence then do they detain the truth, though it be even in this unrighteousness?” Hear what follows, and he shows. “Because that which can be known of God,” he says, “is manifest in them; for God hath manifested it unto them.”4 Manifested it unto them to whom He hath not given the Law? Hear how He hath manifested it. “For the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”5 Ask the world, the beauty of the heaven, the brilliancy and ordering of the stars, the sun, that sufficeth for the day, the moon, the solace of the night; ask the earth fruitful in herbs, and trees, full of animals, adorned with men; ask the sea, with how great and what kind of fishes filled; ask the air, with how great birds stocked;6 ask all things, and see if they do not as if it were by a language7 of their own make answer to thee, “God made us.” These things have illustrious philosophers sought out, and by the art have come to know the Artificer. “What then? Why is the wrath of God revealed against this ungodliness? “Because they detain the truth in unrighteousness?” Let him come, let him show how. For how they came to know Him, he hath said already. “The invisible things of Him,” that is God, “are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal Power also and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Because that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”8 They are the Apostle’s words, not mine: “And their foolish heart was darkened; for professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”9 What by curious search they found, by pride they lost. “Professing themselves to be wise,” attributing, that is, the gift of God to themselves, “they became fools.” They are the Apostle’s words, I say; “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

3. Show, prove their foolishness. Show, O Apostle, and as thou hast shown us whereby they were able to attain to the knowledge of God, for that “the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood by those things that are made;” so now show how, “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Hear; Because “they changed,” he says, “the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things.”10 For of figures of these animals, the Pagans made themselves gods. Thou hast found out God, and thou worshippest an idol. Thou hast formal out the truth, and this very truth dost thou detain in unrighteousness. And what by the works of God thou hast come to know, by the works of man thou losest. Thou hast considered the universe,11 hast collected the order of the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all the elements; thou wilt not take heed to this, that the world is the work of God, an idol is the work of a carpenter. If the carpenter as he has given the figure, could also give a heart, the carpenter would be worshipped by his own idol. For, O man, as God is thy Framer, so the idol’s framer is a man. Who is thy God? He That made thee. Who is the carpenter’s god? He That made him. Who is the idol’s god? He that made it. If then the idol had a heart, would he not worship the carpenter who made it? See in what unrighteousness they detained the truth, and found not the way that leadeth to that possession which they saw.

4. But Christ, for that He is with the Father, the Truth, and Life the Word of God, of whom it is said, “The Life was the Light of men;”12 for that I say He is with the Father, the Truth, and Life, and we had no way whereby to go to the Truth, the Son of God, who is ever in the Father the Truth and Life, by assuming man’s nature became the Way. Walk by Him as Man, and thou comest to God. By Him thou goest, to Him thou goest. Look not out for any way whereby to come to Him, besides Himself. For if He had not vouchsafed to be the Way, we should have always gone astray. He then became the Way Whereby thou shouldest come; I do not say to thee, seek the Way. The Way Itself hath come to thee, arise and walk. Walk, with the life,13 not with the feet. For many walk well with the feet, and with their lives walk ill. For sometimes even those who walk well, run outside the way. Thus you will find men living well, and not Christians. They run well; but they run not in the way. The more they run, the more they go astray; because they are out of the Way. But if such men as these come to the Way, and hold on the Way, O how great is their security, because they both walk well, and do not go astray! But if they do not hold on the Way, however well they walk, alas! how are they to be bewailed! For better is it to halt in the way, than to walk on stoutly outside the way. Let this suffice for you, Beloved.

***

With the wish to understand that the Way to the Father is to allow ourselves to be led by Christ, by his word of Truth, and to accept the gift of his Life.

Don Franco

@DonFrancoFollo

1 (Jn 14,6
Rationes.
3 (Rm 1,18
4 (Rm 1,19
5 (Rm 1,20
Viget.
Sensu.
8 (Rm 1,21
9 (Rm 1,22
10 (Rm 1,23
11 Totum).
12 (Jn 1,4
13 Moribus.
a

[1] This sentence is followed by these words “… Jesus, Who,* though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him And bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. “(Phil 2: 5-11)