Read Acts 6:1-7, Ps. 33:1-2,4-5,18-19, 1 Peter 2:4-9, John 14:1-12
“Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me… And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
Last Sunday, we celebrated Jesus Christ as our Good Shepherd. In our Gospel passage, we heard Jesus saying: “I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:9-10).
It is in this same light that Jesus continues His message of assurance to us today. In fact, Jesus takes a step further from describing Himself as the Good Shepherd to describing Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What does this mean for us today?
1. We Cannot Do Without Jesus
By referring to Himself as the way, the truth, and the life, Jesus is telling us that He is not just a shepherd who guides us along the right way, but He is also the very road we are to follow. Jesus wants us to understand that He is not simply a shepherd who answers our questions, He is the very answer to all that bothers us. Jesus is teaching us today that He is not just a shepherd who protects us from danger, He is also the very life that sustains our existence.
Put in very simple terms, therefore, we cannot do without Jesus. This is because without Jesus we are lost, without Jesus we are clueless, and without Jesus, we are dead. Guess what? This is the lot of those who think they can ignore Jesus and still enjoy life.
As St. Peter explains in today’s second reading: “To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,’ and ‘A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall’; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” (1 Peter 2:7-8). There is a hymn that captures this truth excellently. The first stanza goes thus:
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,all other ground is sinking sand.
Jesus is the rock and anyone who tries to build without this rock is building on sand. It will surely collapse.
2. With Jesus on Our Side, We Need Not Worry About Anything
Whether we like it or not, there would be dark moments in our lives. An example of this dark moment is what we see in our first reading today; cheating within a Christian community. This community was a light to the world. Never before was there a place where people practiced love among themselves but as you know, whenever something good starts, there would always be people who will try to spoil it. Among every twelve, there is always going to be a Judas.
However, even in the midst of this terrible shake-up, the apostles were determined to remain standing on Christ the solid rock. They said: “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:2-4) The second verse of the hymn we just sang goes thus:
When darkness veils His lovely face I’ll rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy day My anchor holds within the veil. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,all other ground is sinking sand.
Child of God, trials are sure to come but no trial should make us take our minds away from Jesus. In today’s Gospel passage, we heard Jesus saying: “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.” Believe in God. God knows, God sees, God understands. Believe also in Jesus; He once lived in human flesh and he perfectly understands what you are going through.
Whatever crisis God allows in our lives, it is because he wants to use it to bring about something good. Out of this crisis, came the ordination of the first deacons in the church. As St. Paul would say: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him…” (Romans 8:28).
3. We are Royalty; Jesus is our King and our Life
In our second reading, St. Peter not only speaks of Jesus as the solid rock, but he also goes on to describe us as living stones. St. Peter tells us today: “Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5). As Christians, we are a special breed, we are chosen, together we make a holy priesthood and as priests, we are called to offer to God spiritual sacrifices.
In verse 9, St. Peter adds: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9) The reason we cannot do whatever we like is because we are a royal priesthood, we are holy, we are different, we are set apart; apart from the darkness of sin and evil that permeates our world.We dare not join the world in evil because of our covenant with God. In fact, in the third verse of our hymn, we sing:
His oath, His covenant, His blood. Support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way. He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the solid rock I stand,all other ground is sinking sand,all other ground is sinking sand.
4. We are but Pilgrims; Jesus is the Way to our True Home
Just after assuring us not to worry, Jesus goes on to tell us, “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3). One of the reasons we become so worried and troubled is that we forget that we are just sojourners on Earth. We forget that this is not our home.
We complain about our government, our leaders, our politicians, and our civil structure. We complain about our enemies and even about our friends, sometimes, we complain even about ourselves. We want a perfect world here on earth but that is just an illusion. There would never be a time that everything will be okay; we are in the world but we are not of this world. (Cf. John 17:11,14-15) The fourth verse of the hymn goes thus:
When He shall come with trumpet bound. Oh, may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone. Faultless to stand before the throne. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,all other ground is sinking sand.
As much as we must do our best to make this world a better place, let us never take our minds off the fact that we brought nothing to this world and we shall go back with nothing. There are rooms prepared for us, as St. Paul says the things that “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1st Corinthians 2:9).
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see that without you, I am nothing, open my ears to be more attentive to you every day, strengthen my feet to stand on nothing else but you my solid rock. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (5th Sunday of Easter, Bible Study: Acts 6:1-7, Ps. 33:1-2,4-5,18-19, 1 Peter 2:4-9, John 14:1-12).
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu