5 Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 6:1-7; 1Pt 2:4-9; Jn 14:1-12
Introduction: This is a homily/Scripture reflection in a book, titled: ‘Every Week God Speaks We Respond’ Cycle A, intended to be published in the future by Reverend John Tran Binh Trong. It was published in Vietnamese in the US 2009 and republished in Viet Nam 2012.
To keep the author’s writing style, this homily has not been edited and may not be by a hired hand. However, if readers like to point out mistake(s) in spelling and grammar, it would be greatly appreciated by the author whose English is not his mother tongue and who did not live in the US until his adulthood. Passive sentences are used intentionally in this context to avoid using the first personal pronoun ‘I’ when applicable, that might be associated with any idea of egotism, in accord with the French saying, known as: ‘Le moi est haissable’ (The ego is detestable).
Jesus' farewell message to his apostles at the Last supper gave them a feeling of anxiety and fear. Therefore, in today's gospel, he tries to calm their anxiety and fear, saying: Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me (Jn 14:1). Through the Apostles, Jesus also wants us to put our faith and trust in Him, in his word and his providential care. Trust is something we can learn from experience. When we have to face difficulties and problems of life, we feel as if God is absent and we ask ourselves why God would let bad things happen to our family and us.
However, if we look at things happened with the eyes of faith, we can see difficulties and problems of life can help us come closer to God in prayers. Then with times passed, we learn to put our faith and trust in him. Bidding farewell to the apostles for heaven, Jesus did not abandon them, but promised to stay with them with grace and spiritual power until the end of times. Jesus also promised them, saying: I will come back again and take you to me, so that where I am, you also may be. Where I am going, you know the way (Jn 14:3-4).
At this, Thomas said to him that he did not know the way. Jesus replied: I am the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6). Reading the bible, we can see Thomas is always a practical and pragmatic man. On another occasion, when the other apostles told him Jesus had risen and appeared to them, Thomas refused to believe. He insisted that he should put his finger into the nail-marks and his hand into his side before he could believe. Thomas’ problem reflects the ignorance of the other apostles about the perfect union of Jesus with God the Father. They have been with Jesus for three years: listening to his teaching, witnessing his miracles. Yet they have not come to realize that through Jesus, they could come to know and see God the Father. Philip has a similar problem as Thomas does. Philip asks Jesus to show him the Father. Jesus told Philip he had seen God the Father through seeing the Son.
For forty years wandering through the Sinai desert, Moses tried to find his way  to bring God’s people to the Promised Land. Now Jesus confirms he himself is the way. His way is the way of the Gospel. If we lose our way and miss our direction, Jesus promises to show us the way to the Father if we come to him for help.
For many centuries, many philosophers and scholars have tried to seek truth . Now Jesus said he is the truth. The concept of revealed truth is found in the gospel. For many generations, Chinese and Egyptian emperors and empresses have tried life-long medication to prolong life indefinitely. Now Jesus said he is the resurrection and the life (Jn 11:25).
To inherit the everlasting life, we have to follow the way of the Lord, and to seek his truth. The way of the Lord is the way of the Gospel. That is why Christianity at the times of the apostles is simply called the way (Acts 9:2; 18:25; 24:22). Saint Paul substitutes what is considered truth in the Law by the Jews for the truth of the gospel (Gal 2:5, 14). In the gospel, Jesus teaches the truth not only by his words but also by his examples. Jesus possesses life from the beginning (Jn 1:4). In his death, he gives his life so that in his resurrection he becomes a life-giving spirit (1Cor 15:45).
Thomas à Kempis of the middle Ages, in his book titled Imitation of Christ put those words back into Jesus’ mouth: I am the way you must follow, the truth you must believe, and the life you must hope for.
A prayer asking to inherit eternal life:
Oh risen Christ! You are the way, the truth and the life.
I offer to you my difficulties and problems of life.
When I am in the midst of the crossroads,
when I abandon the way of piety and justice,
show me the way I must follow,
and lead me back to the right path.
When I am confused about the teaching of the Gospel,
show me the truth, which I must seek
so that I may inherit the everlasting life. Amen.
According to Thomas L. Kemp. Homilies on the Sunday Gospels. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Inc. 1976, p. 44.