5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER
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For the next three Sundays, we will be reading chapters 14 to 17 of John’s Gospel. These four chapters are called The Last Discourse of Jesus. We may say that in these chapters we find the Last Will and Testament of Jesus because they contain the words of a dying man. The words are sad, heartbreaking and may even sound tragic because they were spoken by Jesus who was about to the die the following day. But we if read carefully, they are really words of hope, joy and encouragement.
The first reading today gives us the historical background of the institution of the diaconate ministry in the early Church. It was because of the increase of the number of disciples that the Greek widows were overlooked so the Twelve Apostles decided to ordain seven men of good reputation as deacons. Today diaconate is either permanent (married deacons) or transitional (leading to priesthood). The second reading reminds us that like Jesus we are living stones in a spiritual house that is why we are so precious in the eyes of God. We are also called to share in the one priesthood of Jesus, called out of the darkness into God’s wonderful light.
In our gospel today, Jesus opened his Last Discourse with words of encouragement “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” For the first time in the gospel, Jesus announces that there are many rooms in his Father’s house. He was going away to prepare a place for his disciples, then would come back to take them with him. When Thomas said that they did not know the way, Jesus proclaimed “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” What do these big words mean? Life is a journey and there are many roads leading to many destinations. Sometimes people think that all religions are one and the same and Buddha, Mohammad, Jesus, Confucius, etc are the same. Life’s journey becomes a pilgrimage when the road is sanctified because of the presence of Jesus. Every step is holy because we are treading on a holy ground, that is, if we live a life of truth based on the Gospel values. While walking on this pilgrimage, we are able to see life differently because we do not just walk by sight but we walk by faith. If we do this, then we are able to find life along the way and the fullness of it at the end of the pilgrimage. It is only Jesus who makes the difference.
When Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus proclaimed that whoever sees him sees the Father also. Of course, no one has seen the Father but if we are able to see Jesus, then we are able to see the Father because they are present in each other.
What are we afraid of? What are the things that trouble us? Much more than the present, the future troubles us so much. Of course, there are so many reasons to be afraid but there is only one reason to be at peace. When we feel the whole world is on our shoulders, we feel overburdened, weary and down. And yet, if we just believe that the world is in the hands of Jesus, we know that we can live a life better than the sum of all our fears. That is why Jesus said that if we just believe in him, we can even perform miracles. Just like the songs in the movie “The Prince of Egypt”, there can be miracles when we believe... because we see things through heaven’s eyes!