Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life

May 10, 2020

This Gospel passage is often proclaimed at the celebration of life as a family gathers to reflect on the gift of resurrection for a loved one at the Liturgy of Christian Burial.  Those words offered by Jesus are a response to a question.  Thomas says “We do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?”  I think this resonates with families and loved ones.  Death is an individual experience.  As a people of faith we know Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  We have had years to reflect on that proclamation and our faith leads us to a conviction of what is proclaimed.  On this day, at this time, we are invited to go deeper and unpack those words.  When Jesus says He is the way, it is HIS way.  To realize this we must visit the gateway of being a follower.  His way is the Cross.  His way is the washing of the feet of others.  His way is the recognition of Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread and it is forgiveness won for us.  When we state Jesus is the truth, we are saying He is the truth beyond all understanding.  He is the sum of all truth that we can only know partially and will never know completely.  His truth is a truth that the world does not totally accept, the truth of the Trinity, the truth that He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  It is the truth that He died for our sins.  When we say Jesus is the life, we are talking about His life; a life lived for others.  He is the life that conquered death itself in the resurrection.  He is the life that shed His blood for the new and eternal covenant.  He is the life that embraced and surrendered to the will of the heavenly Father.

In all of this lies the great paradox.  In order to proclaim Jesus is the way, it must be His way and not our own.  When we proclaim Jesus is the truth, it must be an entering into His truth.  It must be a shedding of our own imperfect interpretations of shallow truths that can only stretch our minds so far.  His truth is vaster than our very brain can handle.  When we proclaim Jesus is the life, it must be His life, not our own.  The great saints lived never for themselves but fought the fight to become small and humble so He could be praised.  It is a lifelong quest to proclaim Jesus as the way, the truth and the life because in doing so we are admitting our own limitations.  It is my prayer that as a community, we may allow His way to become the way we follow.  When we proclaim His truth, may we allow our inadequate simplistic interpretations of truth to fall away and be abandoned.  And when we proclaim His life, we may embrace it to the fullest reality that we can.  For His life always was heading back to the heavenly Father.  His life was never lived for Himself, but given as a sacrifice for our sinfulness.  How can we live our life worthy of the breath God gives us?  How can we embrace truth in our lives worthy of the truth God reveals in Jesus?  How can we find our way in this world that is worthy of His way proclaimed in His death and resurrection?  This is what it means to say Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  May we go deeper with Him.

Father John J. Ouper