Reading (Acts 13:26-33) Gospel (St. John 14:1-6)
Saint Paul, as he was preaching in the synagogue in Antioch, tells the people that the inhabitants and the leaders in Jerusalem failed to recognize Him; they failed to recognize the One Whom God has sent for the salvation of our souls. Now we have spoken about this many, many times and how easy it is to not recognize Him, very simply because He does not usually operate quite the way that we expect He is going to. That was the problem for the people of Jerusalem, for the high priests and the scribes and the Pharisees. They assumed that they already knew what the Lord was going to be doing or how He was going to come among them and what He would do among them. And when He came in a different manner and did things differently than what they expected, they did not recognize Him.
So too for us, we can look in the Gospel and Jesus says, “You know the way.” Thomas looks at Him and says, “We don’t know the way!” And He says, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” He had been among them and they did not know, not even His apostles fully recognized. So too for us, we are with Him every single day and how often we fail to recognize. We do not recognize Him; we do not recognize His truth; we do not recognize His Will in our life; we do not recognize the way that we are supposed to take. But all of it is Him because He is that Way that we are supposed to take, He is that Truth that we are to believe, He is the Life in which we are to share.
But it is a matter of then coming to know Him, and that means we have to put aside every other idea that we have about what it is supposed to be and allow Him to lead us. That, for us, is a huge challenge because we are comfortable with our own preconceived ideas. We like to have God in a nice little box so we can control how He is going to operate in our lives. It does not work very well but we like it that way. And so the problem is not that we do not know Who He is. The problem is recognizing Him, recognizing Him for Who He is and being able to follow in the way that He leads because when we listen to His promise that in His Father’s house there are many dwelling places, that He is going to prepare a place for us so that where He is we also may be, that is His desire for us: to be with Him where He is. But in order to do that we have to walk the same path, we have to be united with Him in all things.
That is where the challenge comes for us. We want to go to Heaven, but we are not so sure we want to do what is required to get there, or what is even worse sometimes is the attitude of doing the very least possible and still being able to squeeze into Heaven. As the little sign says: “How much can I get away with and still get to Heaven?” It is totally the wrong attitude. It is pure selfishness if we do it that way. We want to love; that is the way because He is love. And so it is to know, to love, and to serve. He is the Truth; He is the Way; He is the Life. We have to know the truth, we have to love the truth, we have to live the truth. That is the manner in which we are to live our lives. That is how we unite ourselves to Christ, Who is that Way and the Truth and the Life. That is where the struggle comes for us to recognize Him because we live in a world that is filled with lies. The father of lies has sown lots of seeds and the weeds have grown rather high, but the wheat is there as well – the truth that is sown by Jesus – and He has sown it in our hearts. We need to recognize the wheat and we need to get rid of the weeds so that we will have a heart that is filled with Jesus Christ and we will seek only union with Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.