The way, the truth, and the life
Fr. Robert Mraz, Holy Family Catholic Church, Silver Lake
It is moving time. I will be moving to a new assignment as pastor of the Catholic churches in Tracy, Walnut Grove and Milroy in June. This makes me think of the future and future homes.
Jesus is moving, too. Thursday was the feast of the Ascension of the Lord. Jesus, after spending 40 days on earth, went home to heaven.
The apostles were sad. They lost their best friend when he was crucified and died. They placed him in the tomb and thought that was his final home and said their final good-byes. But, as we know, that was not the rest of the story.
The tomb was a temporary home for Jesus, He came back to life to spend 40 days more with His friends, teaching them what it means to follow Him and how to continue His work.
They were overjoyed that they had their old friend back again. But then, Jesus told them He was leaving again and they would follow Him later, for they know the way.
They cannot figure out where He is going up to Galillee, down to Judea, east to the Decapolis? Where is He going, so they know which road to take?
Jesus tells them the way to their new home is He, Himself. “I am the way (road), and the truth (directions), and the life (eternal life of grace). No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Jesus is the bridge between heaven and earth. He received His divine nature from God the Father, and His human nature from His mother, Mary. As a bridge needs to be anchored on both shores, so Jesus is both God and man, divine and human, material and spiritual.
The only way to get to heaven is by Jesus. The direction we need to get there on the bridge is His teachings and example. We can be on the right road, but going the wrong direction. We need to listen to Jesus’ teaching and we will go the right way.
Jesus is the life. Heaven is God’s home, not ours. Our home as a material creature is earth, but God wants us to live in His home. And so, we need a new life, a life not bound to earth, but an eternal life bound to heaven.
As a fish cannot life on land without lungs, so we cannot live in heaven without God’s life, which we call sanctifying grace. God gives us His life so we can follow Jesus home as adopted children of God, who can live forever in heaven.
But where do we get this life from?
The apostles asked Jesus not to leave, but He said “If I do not leave, then I cannot send you the Holy Spirit. But if I do leave, I will not leave you orphans. I will send you the Holy Spirit, who will teach you all truth.”
Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to give us God’s divine life, aid, and grace by means of material signs of water in baptism, when we get God’s life of grace; by bread and wine, which He makes into Jesus’ flesh and blood so we can eat food from heaven to nourish that life; by means of oil to strengthen us so we can live by Jesus’ teachings.
As Jesus was material and spiritual, the Holy Spirit uses material things to bring God’s grace to us; we call these sacraments.
The good news is that earth is just a temporary home. We are called to move as Jesus did to our true home in heaven. We can do this with the help of the Holy Spirit to cross the bridge of Jesus, who is the Way, so we can know the direction to go. Jesus is the truth and so we can have the gift of grace, of eternal life as children of God and heirs of heaven.
Jesus is leaving, but only temporarily. He is going to prepare a place for us so that where He is, we, too, might be, if we, too, are willing to move on and follow Him.