The Fifth Sunday of Easter ~ I am the Way and the Truth and the Life

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The Fifth Sunday of Easter ~ May 10th, 2020

Many of us are struggling in one way or another ~ most of us financially ~ because of the coronavirus crisis and its lingering effects among us. So we might gladly hear as good news Jesus’ opening line in today’s gospel:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.

This passage appears very shortly before the apostles’ life begins to cave in (John 14:1-10).When he speaks of “his Father’s house” he’s talking about heaven, of course, and when he says there are “many dwelling places—or as Barclay calls them, “abiding places,”—Clement of Alexandria thought that there were degrees of glory, rewards and stages in proportion to a man’s achievement in holiness in this life.

Barclay suggests to us that there’s something attractive here. A lot of us think heaven is boring and static! There’s something attractive at the idea of a development which goes on even in the heavenly places.

And if there are many dwelling places in heaven, it may simply mean there’s room for all; an earthly house can become overcrowded especially in these coronavirus days,with short tempers and and all.)

It was Jesus real purpose “to prepare a place for us.” One of the great words that is used to describe Jesus is prodromos (Hebrews 6:20). It’s translated as forerunner. In the Roman army they were the reconnaissance troops that went ahead to blaze the trail.

And then Jesus said: “Where I am, there you will also be.” Here is the great truth put in the simplest way: for the Christian, heaven is where Jesus is!”

Again and again Jesus had told his disciples where he was going, but somehow they never understood. “Yet a little while I am with you, and then I go to him who him that sent me (John 7:33). Even less did they understand that the way he had to take was the Cross.

At this moment the disciples were bewildered men; they followed him, yes, but they didn’t quite get what was going on. But there was one among them who would never say he understood what he did not understand.

You might guess who that one was.

Thomas, of course!

Thomas said, “Master, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?

And Barclay says, that no one should ever be ashamed to express one’s doubts for it is amazingly true that he who seeks to the end will find—and the wonderful thing is that Thomas’ question provoked one of the greatest thinks Jesus ever said:

“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.”

That is the great saying to us, but it would be still greater to the Jew who heard it for the first time.

The Jews talked a great deal about the ways of God. “You shall walk in the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you Dt. 5:32,33). “Teach me your way, O Lord. (Psalm27: 11). 

So what did Jesus mean when he said he was “the Way”?

Jesus doesn’t tell us about the Way; He is the Way. He will take us where we need to go!

Jesus said, “I am the Truth.”

How many people have told us they have told us the truth—car sales persons, politicians, insurance brokers, realtors, bankers, journalist, husbands, wives, children and doctors who have lied to us instead.

But Jesus is the Truth. Moral truth cannot be conveyed solely in words; it must be conveyed by example. It finds its realization in him.

Jesus said, “I am the Life.”

The writer of Proverbs said, “The commandment is the lamp, and the teaching a light; and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23). “You show me the path of life. (Psalm16: 11).

There is only one way to put all this: “No one, said Jesus, comes to the Father except through me. He alone is the way to God. In him we see what God is like, and he alone can lead us to God’s presence with fear and without shame

.And so, once again, dear sisters and brothers, I call you, I invite you to an intimacy with Jesus who is our Way, our Truth and our Life.  

Last week we reflected on Jesus in his image as the Good Shepherd, walking the road ahead of us, protecting us from harm as the Sheep-gate. If you feel afraid or hesitant to draw close to him, don’t be. Sometimes people who’ve been hurt by love are even afraid of God too. That’s understandable. Just don’t be afraid! There is nothing to be afraid of.  Put your big toe in. The water’s warm. You’re in for the biggest surprise of your life!

Gentle Jesus, I thank you for guiding me along the way of my life,

I thank you for leading me on my life-long search for You, my Truth;

may I finally be united to you, my Life!

But most of all, I beg of you, to be with all of those who are struggling this day in any way because of this terrible disease ~ those who are sick, those who take care of them, those who worried about their jobs and finances, those in leadership positions to help guide us through this.

And finally, bless all of our mothers, grandmothers and mothers-to-be on this Mothers’ day. 

May Our Blessed Lady watch over us all! Amen!  

And now before you go, here’s the song ” I am the way and the truth and the life.Click Here. 

And here are this Sunday’s Mass readings if you’d like to reflect on them.Click here.   

With love, 

Bob Traupman 

Contemplative Writer

William Barclay The Daily Study Bible Series / the Gospel of John – Volume 2                                Revised Edition / Westminster Press – Philadelphia – 1975/ pp. 154-9.

 

 

 

 

I am the Way and the Truth and the Life ~ for You!

THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER ~May 14, 2017

Today’s Gospel is part of Jesus’ intimate talk with his disciples at the Last Supper as recorded by John

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.”

I rely much of this commentary on Scripture scholar William Barclay. He says that in a very short time life for the disciples was going to fall apart. Their world was going to collapse in chaos around the. And Jesus here was comforting them.

The Psalmist says, “My eyes are toward you, O God; in You I seek refuge” (Psalm 141:8). There comes a time when we have to believe what we cannot prove and to accept what we cannot understand. Note that he says ask  not only believe in God, but believe in him.

Jesus goes on to say . . .

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.”

In preparing a place for us he was going ahead of us. Barclay notes that one of the great words used to describe Jesus is prodomos and the Authorized Version and the Revised Standard translate it as forerunner. Jesus blazed the way to heaven and to God that we might follow in his steps.

And then he says he will come again, telling of the ultimate triumph of Jesus. The curious thing about the Second Coming, Barclay suggests, is Christians seem to disregard it entirely or to think of nothing else. It is true we cannot know when it will happen or what will happen, but one thing is certain—history is going somewhere!

And then Jesus said . . .

“Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Again and again, Jesus had told his disciples where he was going, but somehow they just didn’t get it.

There was one among them who could never say he could understand what he really did not comprehend, and that was Thomas. He was far too honest and far to earnest to be satisfied with any pious expressions. Thomas had to be sure. So he expressed his doubts and his failure to understand and the wonderful thing is that it was the question of a doubting man that provoked one of the greatest things Jesus ever said. No one need ever be ashamed of his doubts; for it is amazingly and blessedly true that he who seeks will in the end find.

Jesus said to Thomas: “ I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life.” That is a great saying for us, but it would be still greater for a Jew hearing it for the first time.

The Jews talked much about the ways of God. “You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you (Dt. 5:32).

And Jesus said: “I am the Way.” What did he mean? Suppose you are a stranger in town and ask for directions. You’re told “Take a right five blocks down, then go right four blocks; take a left. Pass the Presbyterian Church on your right. Turn left again; and go five more blocks and your destination will be on your left. Chances you’ll be lost before you get halfway there.

But suppose the person says, “Come, I’ll take you there.” That’s what Jesus does in saying, “I am the Way.” He doesn’t tell us about the way; he is the Way!

Jesus said “I am the Truth.” The Psalmist said, “ Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may know your truth” (Psalm 86). Many have told us the truth but few have embodied it. Moral truth cannot be conveyed by words.; it can only be conveyed by example. Moral perfection finds its realization in Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the Life.” “You show me the path to life, the fullness of joy in your presence (Psalm 16). And there is only one way of putting all this. “No one,” said Jesus, “comes to the Father, except through me.” In him alone do we see what God is like; and in he alone can lead men into God’s presence without fear and without shame.

And then . . .

Philip said to him,
Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”

The Jews would never have dared to think that they could ever see God. But Jesus is saying that as they see him, they see the Father! Barclay says that a Lucan scholar said that Luke had “domesticated God.” Jesus is portrayed is so many scenes of ordinary life.

In Jesus, God once and for all sanctified human birth, sanctified the humble human home of ordinary folk and sanctified all childhood.

God was not ashamed of to do man’s work. Jesus was the carpenter of Nazareth. We can never fully realize the wonder of the fact that God understands or day’s work. He knows the difficulty of making ends meet. He knows the difficulty of the ill-mannered customer and the client who will not pay his bills. According to the Old Testament, work is a curse. But according to the New Testament, work is tinged with glory.

In Jesus, we also see that God knows what it is to be tempted. In Jesus, we see, not the serenity but the struggle of God. God is not like a commander who leads from behind the lines; he too knows the firing line of life.

In Jesus, we see God loving. The moment love enters into life, pain enters in. If we could be absolutely detached, if we could so arrange life that nothing and nobody mattered to us, then there would be no such thing as sorrow and pain and anxiety. But in Jesus we see God caring intensely, feeling poignantly for them, loving them until he bore the wounds of love upon his heart.

In Jesus, we see God upon the Cross. There is nothing so incredible as this in the whole word. No one would ever dreamed of a God who chose to obtain our salvation.

“He who has seen me has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus is the revelation of God and that revelation leaves the mind of man staggered and amazed!

Jesus, O how wonderful, you are to me, to us!

You have guided me on my way through many a dark wood.

You show me the way to your Truth; You are the One I seek.

You make known to me the path of life and fill me with joy in your presence,

May I learn to love you and more and more.

And through your love, to be a person of love.

And on this Mother’s Day,

please bless all our mothers and grandmothers, living and deceased,

you who were so devoted to your own mother,

please bless them all today in a special way!

And now before you go, here’s a faith-filled musical response for us. Click here.

And here are all of today’s Mass readings, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here. 

With love, Bob Traupman,

contemplative writer

William Barclay / The Daily Study Bible Series / the Gospel of John- Volume 2 /Revised Edition                                                        The Westminster Press Philadelphia 1975 – pp. 152-158.

 

The Fifth Sunday of Easter ~ Love one another as I have loved you!

Dali_-_The_Sacrament_of_the_Last_Supper_-_lowresThe Fifth Sunday of Easter

“I give you a new commandment—Love one another as I have loved you.”

The scene is the Last Supper . . . .

When Judas had left them, Jesus said,

“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him . . . .

Our Scripture scholar-friend William Barclay will unpack these rather mystifying words of Jesus for us.

The glory of God has come and that glory is the Cross. The tension has gone out of the room because Judas has left; any doubts that remained have finally been removed. Judas has gone out and the Cross is now a certainty. The greatest glory in life is the glory that comes from sacrifice.

In Jesus, God has been glorified. It was the obedience of Jesus that brought glory to God. And God will glorify Jesus. The Cross was the glory of Jesus; but there was more to follow—the Resurrection, the Ascension and the full triumph of Christ in his Second Coming. The vindication of Christ must follow his crucifixion; the crown of thorns must change into the crown of glory.

But here begins Jesus’ Farewell Discourse to his disciples as recorded in the gospel of John . . . .

My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.” 

It is not an insult to be called my children by the Lord Jesus, but a privilege (1 Jn. 3:1) Jesus is a father to us because receiving everything from the Father (Jn 16:15) he generates within us the new life of grace. We delight in being called children, freed from the burden of having to be independent or self-sufficient. In Matthew 18:1-5, Jesus teaches his disciples that becoming the true way to greatness is through spiritual childhood, of being shamelessly dependent on him. (Magnificat ~ Lectio Divina on today’s Gospel.

Jesus was laying out his farewell commandment to his disciples. The time was short; if they were to hear his voice they must hear it now, Barclay dramatizes. He was going on a journey on which they could not accompany him; he was taking a road that he had to walk alone. He gave them the commandment that they must love one another as he loved them.

What does that mean for us, and for our relationships with others? How did Jesus love his disciples?

Barclay says he loved them selflessly. Even in the noblest human love there remains some element of self. We think of the happiness we will receive, along with what we give. But Jesus never thought of himself. His only thought was to give himself and all he had for those he loved.

Jesus loved his disciples sacrificially. There was no limit to what his love would give or to where it would go. If loved meant the Cross, Jesus was prepared to go there . . . .

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Jesus loved his disciples understandingly. He knew his disciples intimately. We never know people until we have lived with them. Sometimes we say that love is blind. Real love is open-eyed. It loves, not what it imagines a person to be, but what that person really is. Jesus’ heart is big enough to love us as we are.

Jesus loved his disciples forgivingly. Their leader was to deny him. They were all to forsake him in his hour of need. They never, in his days in the flesh understood him. They were blind and insensitive, slow to learn and lacking in understanding. In the end, they were cowards. But Jesus held nothing against them; there was no failure that he could not forgive.

The love that has not learned to forgive cannot do anything else but shrivel and die. Barclay concludes by suggesting that we are poor creatures and there is a kind fate in things that makes us hurt those who love us best. For that very reason all enduring love is built on forgiveness, for without forgiveness, love is bound to die.

I had written seven letters to friends asking for reconciliation and forgiveness. Two were returned for insufficient address; the others did not responded; yet I continue to pray for them and hold out hope for reconciliation and if not, that they have accepted my best wishes.

Jesus, You have given us a New Commandment,

To Love one another as You have loved us.

That’s a tall order.

And I know I fall short all the time.

I have hurt people and have tried to make amends to some.

If we would just rely on your strength and grace, Jesus,

we would do better in our loving.

For they say—

They will know we are Christians by our love.

They did in the early Church.

Allow us—allow me—the grace to do so in the Church

and in our world today.

To You, Jesus, be all Glory and Honor and Praise

forever!

Amen. 

And now, before you go, here’s one of the first “guitar Mass” songs from the Sixties! “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Click here.

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

Acknowledgments:  The Image: Salvador Dali’s The Sacrament of the Last Supper

William Barclay / The Daily Study Bible Series / the Gospel of John – Volume 2 – Revised Edition / The Westminster Press: Philadelphia 1975  (pp. 147-9)

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Life Surge

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THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Dear Friends,

Jesus is so cool in the images he uses to communicate.

In the gospel passage today (John 15:1-8), Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” (You can read the entire passage below.)

Our Scripture scholar-friend William Barclay tells us that Jesus often uses images that are familiar to the people of his day that are part of their religious heritage.  Time and time again, Israel is pictured as the vine or the vineyard of God. “The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel” Isaiah 5:1-7).  “Yet I planted you a choice vine,” says Jeremiah to Israel (Jeremiah 2:21).  Ezekiel, in turn, likens Israel to a vine in Chapter 15 and in 19:10.  “Israel is a luxuriant vine: said Hosea in 10:1.  “Thou didst bring a vine a vine out of Egypt,” they sang in Psalm 80 as they remembered their deliverance from Egypt.  

One of the glories of the temple was the great golden vine in front of the Holy Place.  It was considered a great honor if you were rich enough to give gold to mould a new bunch of grapes or even a single grape to that vine.  

Then Barclay gives us a bit of interesting exegesis.  Jesus calls himself the true vine.  The point of that word alethinos, true, real, genuine is this, he says:  “It is a curious fact that the symbol of the vine is never used in the Old Testament apart from the idea of degeneration.  The point of Isaiah’s picture is that vineyard has run wild. Jeremiah complains that the nation has turned into ‘degenerate and become a wild vine.’  It is as if Jesus said: ‘You think that because you belong to the nation of Israel that you are a branch of the true vine of God. But nation it is; a degenerate vine, as the prophets saw.  It is I that am the true vine.” (Barclay / The Gospel of John, Volume 2, p. 173)

Now here are my own thoughts on today’s gospel.

Take a look at the picture above.  It’s not a vine, but every little portion of that bush, every flower, receives its life by being connected to the source of its life.

So, too, with us.  I have some readers who are not professed Christians.  But if you think about it, the message is the same:  If we stay connected to the Source of life, whatever that is for you, then our lives will flourish and bear fruit.

But some of us are like withered branches.  We have cut ourselves off from the source of life and we do not bring fruitfulness into our lives.

Take a few moments to consider the fruitfulness of your relationships.  Are the people in your life growing because they know you and are in your life?  Or are they withering up?

Stay connected.  Stay connected with your family, your friends, the people you love and the people who love and care about you.

We want to be connected to the Internet, on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and other social media.  But those connections are most often superficial.

What about connections of the heart?  The ones that really matter.

What about your connection with the earth and the environment and with the creatures who share this world with you?  Or does the world revolve around you?

What about your connection with God and his desire that the whole church, indeed the whole world be connected in love.

Jesus, you use simple images to help us understand

what life for us can be like when we stay connected to You.

Wonderful life-surging energy flows through You as the Vine.

Let that same life-surging energy which is Your Holy Spirit

surge through us as well

and renew the face of the earth!

To You be glory now and forever!

Jesus said to His disciples: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does He prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in Me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in Me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without Me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in Me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become My disciples.” (John 15:1-8)  

And now, before you go, here’s a song for your reflection on your relationship with Jesus. Click here. 

And here are all of today’s Mass readings. Click here.   

With love, 

Bob Traupman 

contemplative writer   

William Barclay / The Daily Study Bible Series / the Gospel of John – Volume 2 Revised Edition  / Westminster Press Philadelphia 1975

Life Surge

IMG_0398

THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Dear Friends,

Jesus is so cool in the images he uses to communicate.

In the gospel passage a few weeks ago (John 15:1-8), Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

Look at the picture above.  It’s not a vine, but every little portion of that bush, every flower, receives its life from being connected to the source of its life.

So, too, with us.  I have some readers who are not professed Christians.  But if you think about it, the message is the same:  If we stay connected to the Source of life, whatever that is for you, then our lives will flourish and bear fruit.

But some of us are like withered branches.  We have cut ourselves off from the source of life and we do not bring fruitfulness into our lives.

Consider the fruitfulness of your relationships.  Are the people in our lives growing because they know us and are in our lives?  Or are they withering up?

Stay connected.

We want to be connected to the Internet, on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and other social media.

What about your connection with God and his desire that the whole church, indeed the whole world be connected in love.

Jesus, you use simple images to help us understand

what life for us can be like when we stay connected to You.

Wonderful life-surging energy flows through You as the Vine.

Let that same life-surging energy which is Your Holy Spirit

surge through us as well

and renew the face of the earth!

To You be glory now and forever!

Jesus said to His disciples: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does He prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in Me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in Me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without Me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in Me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become My disciples.” (John 15:1-8) 

Now, before you go, here’s an Easter hymn for your listening pleasure. Click here. 

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer