5 th Sunday of Easter
May 10, 2020
1 Peter 2:4-9
My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord –
It’s never easy to get to know another in their deepest self – in the deepest part of their being. The reason for this is that we are all guarded. We don’t want to become vulnerable – and then, possibly hurt. Most of us are ashamed of something that would mortify us if others knew the truth. Sometimes, even husbands and wives don’t know the deepest depth of their spouses – and, perhaps, they are better off for not knowing.
To know someone really well, we must enter into a relationship with them. We must “walk in their shoes,” see with their eyes, and feel with their heart. Because this takes time, effort, and courage for both parties, we are fortunate to know anyone in this profound way.
For three years, Jesus entered into this kind of relationship with his closest disciples – with the twelve. They were with each other constantly. Certainly, they got to know Jesus very well – and he knew each of them. We could probably say that the twelve also knew each other really well.
In today’s Gospel selection, Jesus conveys several truths to his closest friends on the night before his death. He tries to prepare them for the terrible tragedy that will take place later that night and on the morrow. Consequently, he tells them to have faith – faith in God and faith in him – That is, they must have a relationship of trust with God as well as with Jesus himself.
He also tells them that he is going to prepare a place for them in another dimension of life. But he must go there alone – and ahead of them. Only then can he return and bring them with him to that special place with the Father.
Thomas, of course, doesn’t understand any of this. He doesn’t know where Jesus is going and so he can’t possibly know the way! So Jesus tells Thomas that he, Jesus himself, is the way! Jesus is also the truth and the life. Therefore, if they look at the whole person of Jesus –
If they model his behavior –
If they believe his words –
And if they embrace his message –
Then they will gain entrance to that world that we cannot experience here!
Then Philip says that if they can see the Father now – then that would be enough to sustain them. And again Jesus counters that if they could truly look into the depths of himself – they would discover the Father – because Jesus and the Father are one – they are united! Jesus is in the Father – and the Father is in him!
In other words, we could say that Jesus is the mirror that reflects the Father – or the window through which the Father may be discovered and seen.
The great tragedy in the life of Jesus is that so many could not accept him for who he was, the kind of life he exemplified, and the message he proclaimed. Many, especially those with power and wealth, those in leadership positions, were more concerned with their own limited world and ideas than anything else. They had put God in a box that limited Him and left them feeling comfortable and secure.
However, in refusing the revelation of God, they also refused to see the truth about themselves. Consequently, when God appeared to them in the person of Jesus, they resisted, refused, and tried to eliminate the cause for the discomfort that Jesus brought to their lives and hearts!
Brothers and Sisters, one of the effects of knowing Jesus better, is that we, necessarily, are forced to know ourselves better. Following Jesus will require walking a different path – or walking in a different way on the same path. It will demand that we are honest with and about ourselves – that we are honest with others – as well as with God.
However, such a relationship also brings with it a new life – a life of peace and love – if our commitment is honest and enduring. For it will be a life sustained by the grace of God even in our darkest hours or in our greatest pain. Furthermore, if we live in God and God lives in us, we will become mirrors or windows ourselves. Others can then discover Jesus, God, and the mercy, love, and salvation that Jesus brought to the world!
So, let us pray, today, that we can come to know ourselves, Jesus, and the Lord God in a way that sustains us now – and which will help both us and others to attain the place prepared for us by Jesus, in the Father’s house!
May 10, 2020 Msgr. Russell G. Terra
Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Redding, CA