26 April 2013. Friday of the 4th Week of Easter
Acts 13:26ff. Yes, Jesus was put to death, but God raised and glorified him.
John 14:1ff. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
First Reading: Acts 13:26-33
“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead; and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’
Gospel: John 14:1-6
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
A Place Prepared for Us
So long as we live on planet earth, we have not arrived. “Here we have no lasting city” (Heb 13:14). While accepting the fact that earth and even our entire solar system can wear out and disintegrate, still the holy Scriptures emphasize far more the ephemeral, short-lived, changing circumstances of our lives and our society. We are a people on a journey, always looking beyond the present, following hope. No sooner do we master our childhood than we are growing into youth; just as soon as we outgrow the awkwardness of youth and pass the border into adulthood. “We have here no lasting city.” We are always on the way.
For people of middle age, with commitments in marriage, religious life or priesthood or some other vocation, characters of a more settled disposition and less elastic spontaneity, it is very challenging to be always on the way, always leaving something and someone behind for someone or something new. But we are heartened by the words of Jesus: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Somehow, to be seeking him is to be already found, to be on his way is our sure direction. To be straining our hopes towards Jesus means we are already held by him. He is drawing us even before we feel inclined to look for him. The flower is found by sunlight before it will turn toward the sun.
Other pointers too are leading us on “the way.” In today’s epistle Paul traces a journey through the Hebrew Bible, beginning with the patriarchs and Moses and ending with John the Baptist, the herald of Jesus. The earlier half of this journey was in yesterday’s reading. In the second half of the same speech at Pisidian Antioch, Paul applies the message to the congregation immediately before him. All Scripture, Paul believes, should be read in the light of Jesus who gives the ultimate meaning to each part of it. He invites them, and us, to see in the risen Jesus the fulfilment of a beautiful prophecy from the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’
We are also on “the way,” even when human sin or ignorance makes seem amid a great wilderness (as Israel perceived the way of the exodus from Egypt towards the Promised Land! Deut 2:7). Even at such times we can be on “the way” with Jesus. Like Israel in the days of Moses, may we too be led to share our best with many others, for the enrichment of all.