– 14-5-2017 – FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – Year A Gospel text : John 14:1-12 vs.1 Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. vs.2 There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you. […]
– 14-5-2017 –
FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – Year A
Gospel text : John 14:1-12
vs.1 Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me.
vs.2 There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you
vs.3 and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too.
vs.4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
vs.5 Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
vs.6 Jesus said:”I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.
vs.7 If you know me, you know my Father too. From this moment you know him and have seen him.”
vs.8 Philip said, “Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.”
vs.9 “Have I been with you all this time, Philip,” said Jesus to him “and you still do not know me? To have seen me is to have seen the Father, so how can you say, ‘Let us see the Father’?
vs.10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself: it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work.
vs.11 You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason.
vs.12 I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father.”
We have four sets of homily notes to choose from. Please scroll down the page for the desired one.
Michel DeVerteuil : A Trinidadian Holy Ghost Priest, Specialist in Lectio Divina
Thomas O’Loughlin: Professor of Historical Theology, University of Wales. Lampeter.
John Littleton: Director of the Priory Institute Distant Learning, Tallaght
Donal Neary SJ: Editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger
Michel de Verteuil
Lectio Divina with the Sunday Gospels – Year A
On the 5th and 6th Sundays of Easter time, it is traditional to read extracts from the long discourse which St John tells us Jesus had with his apostles at the Last Supper, and which he recounts from chapter 13, verse 31 to the end of chapter 17.
This is a very deep teaching of Jesus, and therefore you must make a real effort to discover that it is also down-to-earth, to be experienced by us personally.
It is useful to remember that the teaching was given on a specific occasion: Jesus was facing a great crisis in his own life and in the life of the little community he had founded. In your meditation, remember a similar moment in your own life, or in the life of your community, or in the history of a country or even a civilisation. Who was Jesus in that situation, speaking as Jesus did in these passages? Looking back on those experiences, what words of Jesus can you see were fulfilled?
This Sunday’s passage is rather long, and you must divide it up so that you can meditate on one section at a time.
Verses 1 to 3 :Jesus sees himself at this point in his life as having to make a painful journey alone. He knows that as a result of this journey he will go to a beautiful place, with plenty of space so there is freedom for all. Because of his journey, he will be able to lead his followers to that place as well. Recognize that moment is the life of every person, the Church, any great movement of history.
Verses 4 to 6 : Thomas is struggling with the desire, which is in all of us, to know exactly the destination before we set out. Jesus invites him to make an act of faith and to take one step at a time.
Verses 7 to 11 : Philip too must make a journey which we can recognize. He wants to experience God directly. Jesus shows him that he has been experiencing God all the time by involving himself in the works which Jesus has been doing.
Verse 12 : Jesus sees himself on a journey to the Father, trusting that the work will continue because it is not his but the Father’s.
Lord, there was a time when the teaching of Jesus meant nothing to us.
we were drifting,
we could not accept the values which had guided us in the past.
Then one day, almost miraculously, we knew you were with us again.
It was like coming home;
in fact, we felt an inner freedom and security
such as we had never known before.
Looking back on that journey,
we see that our hearts need not have been troubled;
you had left us on our own for a while,
but only to prepare this wonderful place for us to be.
Lord, as parents, teachers, community leaders, preachers of the gospel
we try to guide our charges along a road we have not traveled ourselves.
That is not the way of Jesus.
Teach us that we must make our own journey, painful though that may be;
only then can we come back and share it with others,
so that where we are they also may be.
Lord, we pray today for those who are facing death or some terrible crisis.
We pray that their hearts may not be troubled.
They are making a lonely journey, but you will come back
and take them where they can be at home with you forever.
Lord, we are at a crossroads in life, and before we set out
we would like to know where you are leading us.
Help us to give ourselves to the present moment,
trusting that if we enter into the truth of our situation,
it will lead us to life.
Lord, we remember when we tried to meet you directly,
remaining alone, withdrawing from others.
We thank you that you sent us a teacher who invited us to become involved
– in working with the poor;
– in building communities;
– in caring for those who are neglected by society.
Then to our surprise we found that you were working with us
and that we were in your presence.
Lord, we pray for those who have started great projects
here in our country and in the world.
They are often anxious about what will happen when they move on.
Remind them that they are not alone,
that they are part of humanity making its way to you.
There will be followers who will do the same work
and will perform even greater works.
Liturgical Resources for the Year of Matthew
We gather for the Eucharist not as a group of individuals each here for her or his own needs: rather we gather as a community called by God to work together. This is the meal that bonds us to one another and to Christ; with Christ we become God’s people offering worship to the Father; from Christ we draw strength to build a society focused on God’s loving plan for the creation; and in Christ we are called to turn from selfishness and strife to a life of peacemaking and gentleness.
1. One of the mysteries that finds least resonance in modern western society is that of the church. We view life as isolated individuals, rather than as members of a group where the group is considered more real than the individual. This individualism grows apace: a few centuries ago the kin group was the source of identity, then it was reduced to a smaller family unit, then to the ‘nuclear family,’ and now even that notion seems ‘to threaten individuality’. The view of the church has likewise changed: from being a wider and more profound bond than any other, it became in the sixteenth century the vehicle for getting one’s religious needs served; then to being simply a cultic administration, and now for many who wish to call themselves Christian it is no more than a hindrance, a set of arbitrary external forms challenging their individual liberty.
2.This sets up a tension for the preacher. On the one hand, the church’s structures have a record of abusing power – the more objectionable as it was done in the divine name. And, there is an on-going danger in all administrative minds, such as those who rise in religious hierarchies, towards closet totalitarianism: the notion that is it is the group that must survive and the individual is just a replaceable bit that can be jettisoned. In the community of Christ where the highest is to feed the little lambs (In 21:15-7), avoiding such totalitarian action must be a primary moral imperative. On the other hand, the mystery of the church is central to the good news.
Christ gathers us into a unity, we act as a group in union with him, we are a people, a community, a body of different members with Christ as our head. Baptism is not an individual ticket to salvation, nor simply a declaration of a religious stance, rather it makes us into a member of community which is the body of Christ on earth. Since we are made by God for membership of this community, and known through and through by him, in this group we do not surrender our individuality to the collectivity but each is called to be a unique part of the whole: no one can make Christ present in a particular place, situation, and time, or in just the same way that you or I can. Each unique person and situation can become a place of the incarnation. As such we can praise uniqueness without endorsing a lonely individualism, praise collective endeavour to build the kingdom without invoking a totalitarian vision. But having this vision, and seeing our talents as gifts to be used in conjunction with others, while recognising the other’s different vocation, is difficult; and indeed is one of the tasks we must face in growing in holiness.
3. Preaching this primary Christian mystery of the church took many forms in the early kergyma: we are most familiar with the body metaphors in Paul, but it can also be found in the pastoral language of flocks and shepherding in the gospels, or in a series of Old Testament religious images such as ‘Israel’ in Galatians, or as in today’s second reading. However, of them all the building metaphors of stones, corner-stones, and so on, are perhaps the easiest to take on board.
4. All the parts of a building are different (doors, windows, wires, pipes) and individually of not much use. But when fitted together the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We can ask which we would like to get rid of: the wood, the plaster, the glass? It is the rich variety of parts that are different and specific to tasks and location within the building that makes the whole so worthwhile. Alternatively, the church building may contain an arch of stone or bricks which can be used as a visual aid. All the bricks look the same when viewed one by one. But in an arch each has to be set slightly differently to the bricks each side of it. Without anyone brick, or if two are set in same way, then the whole is weakened and cannot achieve its purpose and the bricks are just a heap doing nothing. The arch is a unity, but for its unity it depends on each having its distinctive role. Both building and arch need a mind that co-ordinates the parts, an architect who links the parts to the larger purpose: as members of the church we believe Christ is that guiding source of unity.
5. In 1 Peter there is a crucial distinction made when using the building metaphor: we are living stones. We are not like bricks which can only be moved by someone else. We must use our initiative, and see what is needed to advance the kingdom for which we pray ‘thy kingdom come.’ Being living stones we are not tools / materials in the hands of another, but all are fellow workers with one another and Christ. Being a Christian challenges the modern myth of lonely self-advancement; our vision is one of using our individual creativity in conjunction with others to build a kingdom worthy of being presented by Christ to the Father.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If we cannot believe this, then Jesus joins a long list of influential religious leaders who have tried to make a difference to the world throughout human history. He remains one of many leaders, all of whom may be legitimate and relevant but none of whom is unique and absolutely necessary for salvation. Accordingly, neither is the Church necessary for salvation because one religion is as good as another.
However, if we are convinced that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life — as he taught in his preaching — we believe that he is divine as well as human and we accept the uniqueness of his saving death and resurrection. Furthermore, we acknowledge the uniqueness of Christianity among the various world religions and we recognise the absolute necessity of the Church for salvation. The Church is necessary because the Church is the Body of Christ, and Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
What does it mean, then, to claim that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life? Very simply, it means that Jesus is the way to our true home in heaven. He is the only way because he teaches the truth and because the Father’s life is in him. So the fullness of God’s revelation is found in Jesus. All of what God wishes us to know about his nature and his will is to be glimpsed in Jesus who manifests God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. He dies for us and for all other sinners so that we may have eternal life.
God is to be found in Jesus who is Christ the Lord. That is why Jesus told his disciples that, ‘to have seen me is to have seen the Father’ (Jn 14:9). Jesus came into the world to teach us about God. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we are assured that we are in direct, personal contact with God.
But Jesus is not the Way, the Truth and Life just for those who know him and believe in him explicitly. He is also the Way, the Truth and the Life for all people who are saved, for all people who gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven. Christians believe and teach that Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and all people. Salvation for everyone is achieved only through the merits of his death on the cross, although people from other religions and none do not accept this.
Jesus is the Universal Saviour. His life and ministry teach us all we need to know about God. His death wins eternal life for us. His resurrection from the dead gives us hope in this life and in life after death. He leads us to God, our heavenly Father. That is why we believe that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. (In 14:1)
Fr Donal Neary, S.J
Gospel Reflections for the Year of Matthew
The Centre holds
The gospel presents Jesus as the guide in life, the ‘way, truth and life’. The Christian centre is the person of Christ. Our work for Jesus and our love for people, no matter what our calling in life, flow from this. Mother Teresa was once asked why she did what she did, and she simply said ‘for Jesus’. This centre always holds, it cannot be unhinged. It is a deeply personal relationship: we are led by Jesus ‘one by one’, known by name, not as one of a group. We follow him as one we know, not a stranger.
We study his life and times, getting to know the places and events of his life, we become familiar with the gospels and get to know him in the heart. Prayer is the way of keeping our centre of conviction and motivation strong. Freedom grows and we begin to find him everywhere.
Different types of people and spirituality stress different aspects of Jesus. The Eastern approach to Jesus is very much the ‘way’; while the African is the ‘life’. The European stress is the ‘truth’. In Europe we need to rediscover also the joy and vibrancy of the African and Latin American expressions of faith, and also the presence of God in all life’ s moods and journeys of the Indian and Eastern traditions. We can get so caught up in small or even big truths and doctrines that we miss other centres of faith. All faith needs the balanced approach to Jesus – way, truth and life. Recall people who guided you well in your life. Pray for them.
Jesus, our way, guide me in life;
Jesus, our truth, teach me your meaning of life;
Jesus, our life, love me always.