19 May 2011

'I am the way and the truth and the life'. Fifth Sunday of Easter Year A, 22 May 2011

St Philip, Giuseppe Mazzuoli, marble in the Basilica of St John Lateran, the Pope's Cathedral, sculpted 1703-12

Readings (New American Bible, used in Philippines and USA)

Gospel John 14:1-12 (NAB)

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, 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 except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever 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 is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”


About seven years ago I was visiting Holy Family Home, Makati City, run by the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family. Most of the girls there, about 25 of them, come from a background of extreme poverty, many of their fmailies living on the streets. On this occasion a girl of 14 or so - I'll call her Lucia - astounded me with a question that still resonates in my heart. I knew that Lucia had asthma and learned later that her father was a blind beggar. Her question was, 'How can I offer my life to God?'

I was speechless at first and then tried to explain something of the Little Way of St Thérèse
of Lisieux, that everything we do when we do it with love is aready an offering of ourselves to God and that in time he would show her where he was calling her for the rest of her life.

Lucia was asking a question similar to that of St Thomas. Jesus was pointing the apostles towards the Father but had to spell it out for Thomas that he himself was 'the way, the truth and the life'. Lucia was a step ahead of the apostle. She wasn't asking the way but asking how she could offer her life to the Father.

Perhaps Lucia's question was closer to the request of St Philip, 'Show us the Father'. Again, Jesus pointed out that insofar as Philip and his companions knew him they knew the Father and that the Father was dwelling in him and working through him.

Pope Benedict in his various homilies, messages and so on is constantly telling us that our faith is in a Person, Jesus Christ. Jesus, God and Man, came to do the will of his Father and when he invites us to follow him he is asking us to desire nothing else except what the Father wills.

Lucia's was really asking what God's will was for her and how she could carry out the will of the Father. This young asthmatic girl, the daughter of a blind beggar, was going to the heart of the matter.

St Thomas the Apostle, Pierre Le Gros the Younger, marble in the Basilica of St John Lateran, sculpted 1705-11
Entrance Antiphon
Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds; he has revealed to the nations his saving power, alleluia.(Ps 97:1-2)
Here is a setting of those words and succeeding verses of that psalm, which is Ps 96 in some versions of the Bible, by Spanish composer Sebastián de Vivanco (Ávila, 1551 - Salamanca, 1622). Performers: Orchestra of the Renaissance (Richard Cheetham)

Cantate Domino canticum novum,
quia mirabilia fecit, Jubilate Deo,
omnis terra, cantate et exsultate, et psallite.
Psallite Domino in cithara et voce psalmi:
in tubis ductilibus, et voce tubæ corneæ.
Jubilate in conspectu regis Domini: moveatur mare,
et plenitudo eius: orbis terrarum et qui habitant in eo.


Sing to the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvellous things.
Be joyful in God all lands, sing and exult and give praise.
Sing to the Lord with the harp and in psalms.
With trumpets and horns rejoice before the Lord the king.
Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof,
all the world and they that dwell therein.


Cantad al Señor una nueva canción,
porque él ha hecho cosas maravillosas.
Alégrense en Dios todas las tierras,
canten, se exalten y den alabanzas.
Cantar al Señor con el arpa y en los salmos.
Con trompetas y cornos regocíjense ante el Señor,
el Rey Que ruja el mar, en su plenitud,
el mundo entero y todos los que en él viven.

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