Grace to you!
[Note: The style of today's reflection will be slightly different and the length longer than usual.]
In his beautiful sermon on John14:6, the doctor of Grace, Saint Augustine (354-430AD) who was from Thagaste Numidia, modern day Algeria in North Africa, noted that every human being desires truth and life, but not every person finds the way to truth and life. This line is a good introduction to our reflection today on Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.
Consider that all of us desire life and truth. The search for the truth and fullness of life is at the core of everything we do or aspire. From a baby crawling towards candy, to a man or a woman desiring a person to call a friend, and hopefully, “my spouse”, to a young man answering the call to the ordained ministry, etc. Universities, hospitals, shopping malls, theaters—name it; all these in one way or another are to satisfy the desire or, should I say, the need for life, fullness of life and truth. Enduring happiness is life lived to the fullest, and discovering the truth is a delight for the soul.
However, the way to the truth and fulfilled life is what many argue about and find hard to discover. Jesus makes a daring proclamation to his disciples (as well as to us): “I am the Way.”
There is a consensus among biblical scholars that the emphasis of John14:6 is on “the way.” Hence Newman B.M, and Nida E.A. in their “A handbook on the Gospel of John p. 457), re- rendered the text to read, “I am the way that reveals the truth (about God) and gives life to people.”
I believe upon this revelation lies one of the distinguishing marks of Christianity and Jesus as the Savior. We wouldn’t be doing justice to Jesus’ claim if we do not take this and analyze it in its own right, since it is the very word of Jesus. In fact, regarding John 14:6, biblical scholars agree—they hardly agree—that the meaning of the text as rendered in various English versions, are consistent with the very words of Jesus and the original language of the biblical text.
Jesus adds to this revelation by saying; “No one can come to the Father (meaning God) except through me” (Jn 14:6b). In other words, the Lord Jesus said that “All people must go to the father by me” or” I am the only road that leads to the father” (ibid).
It’s important to note that no religious founder claimed to be the way, the truth and the life, nor did any claim to have absolute access to the Father (God). And we must be fair to represent who they say they are, and what they said their mission was.
For instance, in researching Gautama Buddha, one discovers that having found “enlightenment”, he wrote an ethical code for anyone who would want to find “truth and life.” He never claimed he is the way to enlightenment “nor to the truth and life.” To attribute such title to him is to lie against him and against the respected tradition of Buddhism.
Confucius’ humility and self-awareness were evident in his testimonial about himself when he said; “I have not been able to practice virtue aright, … I have not been able to utter or pursue aright what I have learned … I have been unable to change that which was wrong. These are my sorrows…. In knowledge, perhaps I am equal to other men, but I have not been able to transform the essence of what is noble into deed.” I love his humility and honesty.
Mohammed, the revered founder of Islam didn’t claim what he was not either. Towards the end of his life, despite his military conquests and successes, he admitted how sinful and in need of mercy he was, just like all of us: “Fearful, beseeching, seeking for shelter, weak and in need of mercy, I confess my sins before thee, presenting my supplication as the poor supplicate the rich.” His prayer was addressed to God (Allah in his language). Mohammed never claimed to be the way; neither did he claim to be the truth and the life.
Between Buddha and Confucius and Mohammed, at least these three are the founders of three of the four world’s largest religions, one would see a genuine humility and acknowledgement of their identities as humans in search of the truth and life. None claimed to be the way, the truth and the life. Only Jesus did.
Upon this, therefore, lies the authenticity, veracity or falsehood of Jesus’ claim. It must either be true or false. If true, one should respond to it with the moral responsibility required of the truth. If false, then the entire Jesus’ claim is to be completely thrown in the trashcan. Here the famous line of C.S. Lewis in his Mere Christianity fits: “Jesus was either a liar (impostor) or a lunatic or the Lord.”
But if true, then Jesus is stating that we do not need to second guess as to the Way to Life in God and the Truth who is God. He is the answer, the full package of what we are seeking for.
I believe. I follow him the Way to Life and Truth.
I pray that we may discover Jesus Christ, and deepen our relationship in him who is the Way to the Father. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[5th Sunday of Easter: Acts 6:1-7; 1 Pt 2:4-9; Jn 14:1-12]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.