A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday Liturgy
BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (# 22)
5th Sunday of Easter, Year A – April 24, 2005
“I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life”
Acts 6:1-7 // I Pet 2:4-9 // Jn 14:1-12
I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS
Dan Griffin, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, narrates a charming incident when someone had to show him the way where he was going (cf. MARYKNOLL magazine, January-February 2005, p. 8).
Tanzania is a big country with few roads, and even fewer road signs. One day as I was driving along in a remote area of Shinyanga in the pouring rain, I saw a woman alongside the road. I thought I would be a Good Samaritan and give her a lift. As she climbed into the truck, she asked me where I was going. I told her I was headed to Mwadui Mine. “Good,” she said. “Then we can help each other.” Puzzled, I asked what she meant. “I’m going to Mwadui,” she replied, “and you’re going to Mwadui, but we are going in the wrong direction.”
Today’s Gospel reading (Jn 14:1-12) reiterates that we need someone to show us the way to the Father and that Jesus, the true Shepherd and the Gate for the sheep, is precisely the true and living way to him. In the way he lives, in the truth of his word, and in the quality of new life that he brings, Jesus reveals the Father and leads us to a life of loving intimacy with him. Indeed, if we wish to know what God is like and if we long to have an access and participation in the divine life, we need to look to Jesus, the way, and the truth and the life – at his life of service and public ministry, at his transforming and prophetic words, at his paschal mystery of passion, death and resurrection.
This Sunday’s Gospel pericope is taken from the Jesus’ Discourse at the Last Supper, as he was speaking of his imminent departure from this life. The central issue in this Gospel passage is “what will happen to the disciples when Jesus departs from them?” According to Teresa Okure: “The question is real, not a hypothetical one. It is hard for us today to appreciate what Jesus’ departure would have meant to the disciples, especially given the hostility of their leaders, their own hopes that he was the Messiah (understood as one who would live forever), and their un-preparedness to carry on Jesus’ mission; after resurrection, for instance, they returned to their old trade of fishing. Jesus treats their fears as genuine and counsels against anxiety. In his real concern for them, he reassures them … Though he is going away he will always be with them, will return to them, and eventually will take them to be with him when the time comes … A most consoling message for the disciples is that they know the way to where Jesus is going (v. 6). Jesus is the way to God: they need to walk along it and have no fear of stumbling. He is the truth: they need to hold on to him and rely on him without fear of being failed by him. He is the life: they need to live it, live in him, and have no fear of death. This assurance is worthy of acceptance since Jesus and the Father are one, and since all he says and does in their midst are the words and works of God (v. 8-11).”
Indeed, Jesus is the true and living way to the Father on account of his absolute oneness with the Father: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (Jn 14:10). The liturgical scholar, Adrian Nocent underlines the necessity of an authentic and firm faith in this abiding reality and the challenge to replicate in our own lives Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life: “Faith in this truth is an absolute necessity; the energy for accomplishing great things comes from belief in the person of Christ. All the activity of the Church would be fruitless if she did not believe unconditionally in the true reality of Christ and in his oneness with the Father. The whole point of Christ’s earthly works (according to the fourth Gospel) was to give proof of the unity that exists between the Father and himself … At the moment when Jesus is about to leave his disciples behind, he is concerned with the depth and clarity of their faith, since authentic faith is the basic reality that will direct the life of the young Church. Christ is truly the means of encounter with God, and the Church must continue this role of Christ, showing men the way to the Father. The Church is of course not identical with Christ, but Christ wills that the Church be, like him, the sign of the Father. In her lowly state (in this she is, once again, like Christ) and always under the guidance of the spirit, the Church too must be the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
The Gospel proclaimed in the liturgical assembly this Sunday ends with the departing Jesus’ call to a more profound faith: “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” (Jn 14:12). Indeed, the Church, animated by the presence of the glorified Christ and the impelling power of the Holy Spirit, would continue Christ’s marvelous work of salvation in greater scope, geographically and numerically.
Harold Buetow concludes: “Jesus says that the person of faith will do greater works than he did. When the promise and struggle appear vain, it is good to recall that where Jesus fed a few thousand, believers can feed millions; that where Jesus cured a few, believers can now support enterprises which relieve millions of disease and pain; that where Jesus raise two or three from the dead, believers by their generosity can give life to millions. His tremendous work of salvation takes place all over the world.”
II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART
A. When our hearts are fearful and anxious, do we allow ourselves to be comforted by the presence of Jesus and respond to his exhortation: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me” (Jn 14:1)?
B. How do we personally experience Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life? In our word and deed, do we replicate the person of Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life?
C. In our apostolic works, do we allow ourselves to be strengthened by the promise of Jesus: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these” (Jn 14:12)?
III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD
(Cf. Eucharistic Prayer for Masses for Various Needs and Occasions)
Leader: It is truly right and just,
our duty and our salvation
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Father of holiness, Lord of heaven and earth,
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Through your eternal Word you created all things
and govern their course with infinite wisdom.
In the Word made flesh
you have given us a mediator
who has spoken your words to us
and called us to follow him.
He is the way that leads to you,
the truth that sets us free,
the life that makes our joy complete.
Through your Son
you gather into one family
men and women created for the glory of your name,
redeemed by the blood of the cross,
and sealed with the Holy Spirit.
And so we praise your mighty deeds
and join with the hosts of angels,
as they proclaim your glory without end:
Assembly: Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD
The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14:6)
V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION
A. ACTION PLAN: Through the intercession of Pope John Paul II, continue to pray for the Church, headed by the new Pope, that together with Christ and guided by the Spirit, it may truly be “way, truth and life” in today’s world. Endeavor to be “way, truth and life” for a neighbor who is troubled, lost and confused.
B. ACTION PLAN: That we may participate more meaningfully in the saving mission of Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and in view of a more meaningful Year of the Eucharist, make an effort to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration. Visit the PDDM WEB site (www.pddm.us) for the EUCHARISTIC ADORATION THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR (# 22): A Weekly Pastoral Tool for the Year of the Eucharist.
Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM
PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI
SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323