This morning’s gospel (JN 14:1-6) has Jesus giving a sort of pep talk to his disciples. What we know that they didn’t is that Jesus will be leaving soon and he’s trying to prepare them to continue on without his physical presence. “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” he says. “In my father’s house there are many rooms.” I often wonder if they had, by that time, caught on to his manner of speaking in metaphor. Even now we have trouble understanding and accepting that diversity does not necessarily mean division in religious belief and practice.
Later in this very deep and meaningful text Jesus gets even more difficult to comprehend to people who are expecting him to stay around now that he has come back from the dead. Telling them he’s going to prepare a place for them was confusing enough but when he said, “Where I’m going you know the way,” they lost him totally. Thomas, the “show me” apostle, speaks up. “We don’t even know where you’re going! How can we know the way?”
The answer to that question still confounds us. We know it by heart but still fail to recognize how simple yet profound “the way” is. Maybe we find it too simple to be correct. It is a simple answer, but not easy nevertheless. “I AM the way,” Jesus says, “and the truth and the life.” All we are called to do is to “put on the mind of Christ,” walking in the absolute integrity that is consonant with the example and words of Christ, living the life that becomes transformed because of the unconditional love that fuels it. We think too much, perhaps, about achievement – doing good works that will get us to heaven. If we focus on the attitude that underlies our good works – the unconditional acceptance and welcome of others into our hearts, (the love that Jesus modeled) – our actions will follow in kind.
As I said, simple but not easy. One step at a time…