Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way 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, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
* * *
We’ve been following Christ very historically for some time, reading week by week, day by day, Gospel accounts reliving what Christ and those around him experienced during Holy Week, Easter, the Memorial of Emmaus, and so on. This is the first time since before Lazarus Friday that we’ve looked in retrospect to something Christ said to the Apostles before His Passion, in other words, out of sequential order.
Why? Is there not enough material in the Scriptural accounts to cover historically the 7 weeks (40 days) after Resurrection until Ascension? Why does the Church break the mold of walking in the footsteps of Christ to seemingly reminisce over times long past?
I say for two reasons. Namely, for the very relevant discourse given us by Christ in this passage, which was triggered by a very insightful question, and secondly, for the questioner’s sake, that we may better grasp the importance of his person and demeanor.
We are all in a position very akin to the Apostles’ after the Resurrection, where we’ve had two full weeks to begin to grasp the full magnitute of His rising, but now question what comes next. We are called to follow Him as the perfect example of humanity, and we, just like the Apostles, have heard Him speak of His eventual return to the Father, which brings us to wonder when He will go, and how we are to follow. That is why this week’s Gospel takes us back to a point when Christ addresses those very questions.
This brings us to the second reason: getting to know the inquirer. The question which sparked the Lord’s discourse was: “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” The one who begged the question, was none other than the patron of the Chaldean Church, the Apostle St. Thomas.
This is the second week in a row (after the monumental event of the Resurrection, which emphsizes his role, and further indicates a particular nobility in this Apostle) in which St. Thomas has had a special role to play in the Gospel account. He has a vey unique dialog with Christ, in which Christ starts by describing Heaven, or His Father’s house, using terminologies and analogies that imply its being a specific location. Heaven, though, is not actully a place, so much as a state of soul. Heaven is not somewhere you go when you die; Heaven begins here, and now, on earth, and we get a foretaste of it every time we attend Mass, where we are drawn into union with God, in partaking of His Body.
Thomas, still under the impression that Heaven is an actual place, now speaks up, and asks Christ how they are to know the way.
This indicates a number of things about Thomas, and provides an excellent example with which we can better examine our own interations with God, in comparison to his.
- Thomas loved Christ. He wanted to be with Him, and follow Him wherever He went.
- He also loves him enough to pay attention to what Christ was saying. He did not distract himself, though Christ’s words were difficult.
- He had his priorities straight. He did not have his thoughts preoccupied with something he deemed more important.
- He also admitted to himself that he didn’t understand what Christ is saying. He did not lie by convincing hiimself that he grasped what the Lord was trying to say.
- Lastly, he was humble and courageous enough not to care about looking stupid in front of others by asking the question. Even if all of the other Apostles seemed to understand (or at least pretended they did), and even if it might seem to all of the other Apostle’s a stupid question to ask, he wanted to understand, and he’s wasn’t afraid to admit he didn’t.
Those are the marks of someone who loves the truth, and that is precisely why Christ gives to him such a profound answer:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”