5-14-2017 Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 15, 2017
Easter V / A / 2017
Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan
Our Gospel today is taken from the longest speech that Jesus gives in the Gospels. It is the 14th Chapter of John’s Gospel, at the Last Supper, and Jesus gives a sort of "last will and testament," his final words to his Apostles. Someone’s final words are always important to us—and these words are no exception. So we pay close attention—what is Jesus saying about himself, the Father, and Christianity itself?
For me, the most powerful message is that Jesus is divine. We take this for granted today, don’t we? But sometimes we have to realize just how remarkable it is—the fact that Jesus is divine, the "icon of the invisible God." Jesus tells us to have "faith in God" but also "faith" in him.
There is a parallel between God and Jesus—because Jesus and the Father are one.
When Thomas asks Jesus where he is going—that the disciples don’t know the way—, Jesus responds, "I am the way and the truth and the life." Think of another religious leader, or great philosopher, or great theologian. 1) They might point out "the way"; but Jesus IS the way. 2) A great teacher might give you the truth; but Jesus IS the truth. 3) Or someone might point out the way of life; but Jesus IS the life.
But Philip in our Gospel still doesn’t get it. He asks Jesus to "show us the Father." Jesus must have been a little exasperated at this point, but he responds, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" because "I am in the Father and the Father is in me." It is through Jesus that we have privileged access to the Father.
The English writer C.S. Lewis says that the words of Jesus in the Gospel today compel us to make a choice: we are either with Jesus or we are not. We either believe in his divinity, or we do not. There is nothing in the middle. We cannot be lukewarm or indifferent. If Jesus is God, then we must stake our life on him. If he is not, then we are
all wasting our time. Jesus says, "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters."
of course, it would be a lot easier for us if Jesus were just a poet or a philosopher. Then we could say, "Yes, I admire him, but I certainly don’t agree with everything he says." If Jesus is Lord and God, we don’t have that luxury.
For those who do believe that Jesus and the Father are one, we get a beautiful picture of God. Put aside all your images of God the Father and just think about the image that Jesus presents to us in the Gospel. So what does it say to us?
1) It says that God is the Good Shepherd, looking for lost sheep and carrying them home. 2) It says that God cares for the sick and suffering and heals them. 3) It says that God is love—and that God even loves those who don’t love him. 4) It says that God welcomes sinners and eats with them. 5) It says that God gets on his knees and washes our feet. 6) It says that God has prepared a place for us and wants us to be with him into eternity. 7) It says that God will even die for us—that we might have life. This is the Father that we see in Jesus Christ.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled." Have faith in God, and faith in Jesus. And you will do his works—and greater works as well.