Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A

Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12

First Reading: In today’s first reading we are told twice that the number of disciples continues to increase. That increase created the need to appoint new ministers. Luke says the Greek-speaking Christians complained that their poor were not being treated as well as those who spoke Aramaic. In response, the Twelve convened a formal assembly and announced that because their first responsibility was to preach, others should serve at the table of the Lord.

Psalm 33: This hymn is addressed to the faithful, reminding them of the many reasons they have to praise God.

Second Reading: In today’s second reading, Peter addresses this letter to people he describes as sojourners: Gentile Christians who already know persecution. Peter encourages them to keep turning to the Lord, and even more than that, to imitate him.

Gospel: In today’s Gospel, we have a selection from Jesus’ last discourse. In it, two disciples ask questions to which they should already know the answers. As a matter of fact, the two questions are simply variations on the same theme. Thomas asks about “the way,” and Phillip asks to be shown the Father. Both requests indicate that the disciples do not understand that Jesus is the Way. They don’t grasp the fact that to see him is to see the Father.

Reflection: As a kid I can remember my mother telling my father to stop and ask for directions when we seemed to be “off-course.” Reluctantly he would stop and get a map and we would be on our way. Sometimes we can get “off-course” and need to find our way back on the journey of faith. So, do you know the way? In today’s Gospel, Jesus is inviting the disciples (and us) to become proactive about believing in him and doing his works, and thus finding our way on the path in our journey of faith.

Thomas and Philip completely miss Jesus’ point in today’s Gospel. Jesus speaks again of his relationship with the Father, a relation into which he invites us. He is going away, but going to prepare a place for us in his “Father’s house,” where there is room enough for all (verse 2). Thomas and Philip ask questions: How can we follow when we do not know the way? How will we recognize the Father, whom we have never seen?

They are looking for a roadmap – they ask Jesus to show them the way. And Jesus responds to both questions in a similar way. Jesus himself is the way there, the destination and the guide. Jesus is one with his Father. They just haven’t grasped what they have encountered all along: Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life.”

As John’s account continues, we learn what Jesus means when he says that whoever believes in him will do greater works than Jesus has done. Jesus, because he is going to the Father, will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. Through the power of the Spirit Jesus’ disciples, including us, will continue to do Jesus’ work through the centuries.  We are not just passive observers of what Jesus does. “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater one than these” (verse 42). All disciples are called to be wonder workers. As we do Jesus’ works, we become more like him – we take on his care, his love, his passion for others. As we do his works, we ourselves become the way to the Father for others. No greater work can we do!

Question for reflection: How have I responded to Jesus’ call to discipleship (his work)? Am I on the right path?

Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.

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