Fifth Sunday of Easter
By: Sr. Jeanne Cover, IBVM
The most frequently uttered words of Jesus’ followers in the weeks of Jesus’ life on earth are: “I or we “Have seen the Lord.” And it was the Risen Jesus who instigated these meetings or sightings. We will all recall reading the account in John’s Gospel of Mary Magdalene’s overflowing joy on day of the Resurrection: “I have seen the Lord.” (20.18) Jesus then went to bring peace to the terrified Apostles (John 20.19). It is not difficult to realise that Jesus was as delighted to walk with the disciples who were on their way to Emmaus as they were when they realised who he was. They had found Jesus familiar in the way he spoke to them, asked him to “Stay” with them, and finally recognised him in the breaking of bread (Luke 24, 28-30). Jesus followed this meeting up by joining another group of disciples, and after his usual offering of Peace, sat down and ate with them. A similar, but possibly even more memorable meeting was at an old and familiar place, the Lake of Tiberias, where Jesus cooked the fish the disciples had caught and ate it with them (Joh 21: 1-14).
Now, Jesus knew that his time on earth was limited and that he needed not only to strengthen his friendship with his followers, who were also his dear friends, but to prepare them for his second departure from them. Hence we find that at each encounter with them, he opens up the Scriptures with them, so that they will continue to remember and carry on his message.
In today’s Gospel passage from John (14, 1-12) we find one of Jesus’ most significant messages to us all. And it is very fitting that this message is given in a response to Thomas. It is interesting to go through the number of times we find Thomas with his doubts and questions, eliciting from Jesus explanations that have become familiar to us all.
I am sure you all know Thomas. Thomas can take nothing on face value. Remember it was not until Jesus had invited him to look at and feel his wounds, that Thomas could accept that the Risen Jesus was indeed the Jesus he had been with at the last Supper and who had died on a Cross. And Jesus understood Thomas so well that he invited him to come and see for himself the marks of the wounds.
So, in this excerpt of the Johannine Gospel, the author portrays Jesus moving into a realm bridging the human and the divine. This, of course, is not the first time. We recall the Transfiguration, during which the disciples slept! Here, Jesus speaks to the disciples of going to his Father’s house to prepare a place for them. They (and we) are also given the comfort that Jesus will come again and take them to himself, so that where he is, there they will be also.
And, of course, in this same context, Thomas expresses his lack of understanding (Are we surprised)? “Lord we do not know, where you are going. How can we know the Way?” But we can all be grateful to Thomas for the question, for Jesus gives us the answer: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my father. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
The apostle Philip is not satisfied and asks Jesus: “Show us the father and we will be satisfied.” And Jesus replies: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. ”Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe in me because of the works themselves.” If we look at Jesus’s works in his last days on earth they are works of love, bringing happiness and joy to those who sought him and now to us as we seek him. Here Jesus gives his friends and followers insights into the mind of God, into God’s wisdom and knowledge. Jesus is more than a guide to salvation. He is the source of life and truth. He speaks the words of the Father.
We find in this excerpt from St John’s Gospel a profound teaching. How can we bring it closer? Let us look within ourselves and ask ourselves three questions:
Where have I experienced Jesus?
How do I describe the call I am currently receiving from Jesus?
How do I respond?
Reflecting on this excerpt from John’s Gospel and the Reading from the first letter of Peter may supply some of the answers: And today, in Canada, newly re-consecrated to Mary the mother of Jesus, we may find our answer in her words: “Let it be done to me according to your Word.” This answer may be shrouded in Mystery for her as for us, but, as theologian Karl Rahner suggested: when knowledge fails in the face of Mystery, it surrenders to love. We are called by God to a vocation of love. That is our primary vocation.
Today is Mothers’ Day. We are all called to be mothers at least symbolically, And what is the primary gift of mothers ? It is to love.