22 May 2014

How can we know the way?

As I read the Gospel passage for the Fifth Sunday of Easter (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051814.cfm)  (John 14:1-12), there were many things that went through my mind.  First of all, this is the Gospel that was read at my dad’s funeral.  It spoke greatly to me and reminded me of the peace that Christ brings to all of us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” is both a challenge and a consolation, especially at a moment of great pain such as it was at my dad’s funeral.  This same passage was also one that I often recommended for other funerals, and one that strikes me differently every time.  Secondly, this passage is one in which poor Thomas seems to have caught Peter’s disease (open mouth, insert foot).  This seems to be the case, but Thomas is challenging Jesus to something more, Thomas is asking for a proof unlike any other, maybe the question could be like that of a child asking a parent “do you love me?”  Jesus immediately responds by saying “YES!”  And this is where all would seem to be well, but then Phillip has the same illness.  “Lord” he says “just show us the Father.”  But this is where we get tripped up as human beings, or maybe, this is where I get tripped up.  It seems almost too simplistic to believe that Jesus is showing us a glimpse of the Father, or that in His love we find the way, the truth and the life.  For some reason, maybe because of our sin, we can’t believe this deal.  It’s too good to be true, and we treat it as such.  But stop for a minute, and listen to the words of Christ, or stop and think back to the radical actions of Christ, or for that matter, think to a favorite Saint or holy person, and think about what makes them stand out.  Very often, it was the simple matter in which they personified love.  Whether it was through the self-offering of a martyr, or the giving of self of a mystic, each and every one of them gave out of a profound awareness of love,  they knew the Way, the Truth, and the Life, not because they had read it in the Scriptures, but because they had known Him in their daily lives.  This is the challenge we face today, also, to live out love in a way that is reflective of the Love He has given us.  But this is also where we get tripped up.  Often, we look at another (perhaps someone we disagree with) and think “I love that person, but don’t like them.”  Or we look at a person and think that by our loving them, we will change them.  NO!  This is not to be, because even in His own love, Christ never loved as a method of change, instead, love was the factor that brought about such radical newness that change happened through the exchange of love that was had.  Now, I’ve confused myself here, and I’ll try to unravel what I mean.  Quite simply (or not), I mean that to love is what we are called.  No matter who we are, or what faith (or lack thereof) we profess, we are called to love.  This seems simple, but in truth, when we love (even as clumsily as we may) we bring about a change in the world that then radiates to others, and they in turn are affected by this love and nothing is ever the same.  This love, however, the love of Christ, is one that we must not pretend to guard.  This is often the case, we fool ourselves into believing that we love this or that person, but in actuality, if we scratch away the surface, we find that instead of loving, we were merely “tolerating,” and toleration can lead us toward a complacency that then moves into mediocrity.  Yes, I am being harsh, but that is what Jesus is trying to do in this passage, He is trying (as He does over and over) to shake the Apostles and disciples out of their stupor of toleration and into an authentic and radical love, a love that provides the answers, a love that shows the way, a love from which life flows, and a love that is true and courageous.  Now I understand that this is a lot for just one person to achieve, but that is precisely where prayer comes in, we don’t just sit and pray, we must be attuned to the voice of God and to Love as He makes his move in our lives.  As we do that, we will come to know God in a different way, and instead of measuring out our love, we too will become Saints.  We will be those holy men and women who loved.  This is a challenge, but this is where we are called to dwell, a place where we each have a space that has been lovingly prepared, a place where our hearts are not troubled, because our hearts are not tied down to the limitation we so easily impose.  It isn’t easy, but it is possible, and as long as I live, I will strive to love, and in love, I will know the Way.  As always, know that I love you.  RL

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