The Way, the Truth, and the Life
Jesus says: ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (John 14.6).
To follow Jesus is to be on a journey. You cannot be a Christian and expect to stay as you are. You have to expect that over a period of time your outlook will change your and your priorities will be challenged. There is a difference between being a tourist and being a traveler. If you are a tourist you can go to an exotic locale and come back unchanged. If you are a traveler, on the other hand, you will be formed by your experiences. You will have learned to see things differently. If Jesus is the way then we are travelers, or I suppose more accurately, pilgrims. We will expect that the journey with Christ will widen our horizons, open our eyes, engage our compassion, shake our complacency.
Our world is strangely uncomfortable with the whole idea of truth. Our culture is happier with the idea of the world as a huge bazaar where you can pick up this idea or that idea, this belief or that one. Mix and match. It is entirely up to you, says popular opinion. Alas, that way will only lead to bewilderment. It also assumes that we can believe many different things and make them compatible. In real life, however, we have to choose. Many hard choices are part of growing up. You cannot have it all. With this in mind we might have another look at the first reading (Act 6.1-7). The leaders of the fledgling Christian community are perfectly clear about what they call ‘the service of the word’. There has to be meditation on the word of God and a sharing of the fruits of that understanding. Yes, there is literally food to be given to the hungry, and they make proper provision for that. But there is also spiritual food to be given to the spiritually hungry. This is God’s word, especially as lived and taught by the Word himself, Jesus Christ. This too needs to be given to the people. There is a truth, and it nourishes those who hear it and take it into their lives.
The Life Life can mean two things. It can mean the pulse within us, the processes by which we breathe and move and grow. Or it can mean our history, the story of our life, our journey through the changing scenes of life. Jesus is the life in both senses. Jesus is that pulse, that energy within us. If you doubt that, consider what we need to live. We need water, food, air, warmth. If we have these things then we can survive. But we also need love, hope, vision, because life is more than survival. We need that thing which is so difficult to define, something we call meaning. We need meaning in our life, and here Christ the Lord is essential for us who believe. Then there is life in our story. Catholics are very reticent about giving what evangelicals would call their ‘testimony’, which is a pity, because so many Catholics do have a quiet sense of Jesus in their life. The paradox is that he is not only the journey’s end but also the way there; not only our goal, but the one who is there unseen alongside us, our companion on the way.