HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH (5th) SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A
HOMILY THEME: VIA, VERITAS, VITA
By: Fr. Gerald Musa
People in the world today are frantically searching for the right way, for the ultimate truth, and an improved life quality. Therefore, there are three fundamental questions that rent the air. How can we move forward? How can we uphold truth and integrity? How can we improve the quality of life?
Just imagine a man having the gumption to declare himself as the way, the truth and the life. Please note that he uses the definite article ‘the’ in each case, ‘the way’, ‘the truth’, and ‘the life’, and so he is not saying he is simply a way, a part of truth or a form of life. When someone makes such strong assertions, the first thing to do is to let him prove what he claims to be by making him show his credentials. After all, evidence terminates argument. The credentials of Jesus are not far fetched: they are embedded in scriptures where his curriculum vitae is there for all to see. What is more, his message, his life and his works are clearly recorded in history. So, how is he the way, truth and life?
THE WAY (VIA)
The story of Adam and Eve traces the origin of how people lost their way in their spiritual journey. Jesus came not only to show humanity their way back to their creator, but he became the way by making himself visible. He could stay in heaven and point the way for us, but he chose to come down from heaven to give us a sense of direction. Thus, through him, with him and in him, humanity’s relationship with the creator is restored.
Additionally, His word shows the way, just as the Psalmist says: Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 109:115). Jesus did not just preach the word but he was also the perfect leader and role model who perfectly translated his word into his everyday life. His word was his bond. He is the road map providing humanity with a new direction in the journey of life. The book of Revelation attests he is the way as it calls him bright morning star (Revelation 22:16).
Communities and individuals have a tendency to deviate from the bright morning star and from their course. This explains why there was crisis in the nascent Christian community after the resurrection of Jesus (Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7). The community was beginning to lose focus and was losing the way. The Hellenists brought complains that they were being neglected in the distribution.
One serious problem that emerges in communities and nations today is lack of distributive justice. This is why we see a few people having too much and other people having too little. There is enough for everyone’s need but never enough for everyone’s greed, says Mahatma Gandhi. In order to solve this problem, the Apostles decided to adopt a new approach, a new way of reaching people. They resorted to division of labour when they elected seven deacons and handed to them the work of distribution. The Apostles were really determined to follow the way of Jesus by maintaining a healthy community “like living stones built into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4). The Apostles also desired to remain faithful to their primary vocation, which are prayer and ministry of the word. To return to the way, the Apostles had to go back to basics and to the drawing board. The way of love and community spirit that Jesus prescribes in the Gospel may appear too long for those who prefer a short cut, too narrow for those who prefer the wider way, and too difficult for those who prefer an easy way out. However, it remains the way that leads to joy and peace.
THE TRUTH (VERITAS)
Ancient Romans had a goddess whose name was Veritas. She was the goddess of truth and mother of virtue. The people believed that this goddess was a young virgin who hid under the Well and was dressed in white robes. Jesus replaces the goddess Veritas as the real truth and as the truth that people can hear and see. He was neither hidden nor lived in the Well, but He lived among the people. He did not just proclaim the truth, but his life was a testimony of the truth. He is truth personified and embodied. He is the ‘true truth’ because he is the incarnate word of God and the wisdom of God made visible to humanity. This is why he reminded his listeners about the Queen of Sheba who was amazed at the Wisdom of Solomon and says about himself, “Something greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42). Jesus clearly defines his mission as one who has come to testify to the truth (John 18:37). His mission was to declare to humanity the hard, raw, inconvenient and Gospel truth about living the new life he offers. Therefore, Jesus asserts: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
THE LIFE (VITA)
The human person constantly desires a good life and so works constantly to improve the quality of life. However, we often have a narrow definition of ‘good life’ when we think of it as success, material wealth and material prosperity. Jesus re-defines good life and offers a new life to those who accept him (John 3:3). It is this new life that the Prophet Ezekiel describes as new heart and new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26, 27). St. Paul says those who adopt the new life become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Ultimately, Jesus demonstrates that life is a gift forever and anyone who lives and believes in him will enjoy eternal life and so death is not the end of the story, but the beginning of a new chapter in life. Even in death, the Romans say in Latin, vita mutatur non tollitur (life is changed, not ended).
5th Sunday of Easter; Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12