Jesus the way to the home he prepared for us
5th Sunday of Easter, A, (John 14:1-12)
May 14, 2017
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
WHEN we reflect on what Jesus is in himself and for us, we cannot help being amazed at the richness of the meaning of his titles as we can derive them from the readings of today’s Liturgy of the Word.
St. Peter speaks of him as the “LIVING STONE” and the “CORNERSTONE” upon whom the building of the Church rests. (See today’s Second Reading, vv. 4 and 7. The first title sounds contradictory for a stone is surely a “dead thing.” Not so with Jesus. He has all the solidity of the stone, while at the same time being full of life. And, more than that, from him all other stones that make up the Church of God derive their life and solidity, thereby becoming, in turn, “living stones.”
As the original “Living Stone” Jesus is then the source of our life and the reason for our presence and role in the Church. Without him, there would be no Church as a spiritual edifice. There would be no other smaller “living stones” used by God to construct the Temple of His wonderful plan.
The image of Jesus as “Cornerstone,” instead, connotes both solidity and primacy. It is like speaking of strong foundations and supporting beams in a building. No house would stand without them. Likewise, without Christ as its cornerstone, there would be no enduring Church. Persecutions and defections would have soon reduced it to nothing. But the Church has survived for two thousand years – a clear sign that it rests on a most solid cornerstone!
But Jesus is not only the source of the solidity of the Church over the centuries. He is also the foundation of our hope that there is LIFE beyond the barriers of time and space. He is the one who has prepared for us a future of unending happiness. His final plan is that he and all his disciples be together for ever in the Father’s house – that is: HEAVEN! That is our real “homeland” and lasting abode!
This certainty is one of the factors that make the difference between believers and those who are not sure or flatly deny that there is life after death. The latter view death as the end of everything they are and have. Hence, they look to it either with fear or with resigned fatalism. When they reach old age, they see themselves like bundles of garbage on the sidewalk, waiting to be collected by the basureros and dumped into “Smokey Mountain.”
The “believers,” instead, see death as a “second birth” – their entry into eternal life. That is why they wait for it with expectation and hope. They are like retired people waiting for the bus or boat that will take them on a pleasant excursion – an excursion that will last for ever!
Most people use to consider old age and retirement as a sort of “pre-departure area.” But the truth is that all of us, in this life, are in the “pre-departure area,” regardless of age, profession, or social status. People do die at all ages, in the most varied circumstances. And no one can boast: “Death will never catch me!” Death does catch all. What makes the difference is the way we look at it.
With his promises, recorded in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that we should look forward to our death as the moment when he will come to take us with him, so that where he is we also may be. (See v. 3.) Such is our eternal destiny, our supreme calling. There is no greater view and aspiration than this.
Some may laugh at such an assurance. Their perception has become so materialistic that they are not able to conceive anything that stretches beyond the confines of what can be seen, touched, measured, or weighed. They even look at the believers as “self-deluded people” who try to find refuge in imaginary worlds that are only the fruit of their disappointments in life . . . .
But we know that our faith in eternal life has a much more solid foundation than our frustrations. Its foundation is no less than the word of Jesus himself, who is “THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE.” He is the one who said that he came to earth that people might have life and life to the full. (See Jn 10:10). And he assured his disciples (and all human beings) that he has gone to prepare a place for them promised that he would come back to take them where he is (See today’s Gospel text, vv. 2-3.) This is what we to believe and continue to hope in. This is what gives us joy and light, even in the dullest and darkest moments in this earthly life.