May 7, 2023

V Sunday of Easter
Year A
Fr. Jon Reardon

When I was in seminary the 2006 Winter Olympics were in Torino, Italy… A group of us had gotten tickets to the opening ceremonies and so we got a car and made a weekend trip of it. Now, it’s a long drive from Rome to Turin – like 7 hours… And 2 things happened… we hit tons of traffic and we got lost… We lost our way. We left Rome around 10am – after our exams – and were supposed to be checked in to our rooms and at the opening ceremonies by 6pm. That never happened. I will never forget we stopped at a toll booth – one where there was an actual person at the booth and had to ask the guy for directions… We lost our way – now, we did have it all mapped out, but we were in unfamiliar territory… We were lost.

Notice the boldness of St. Thomas in the gospel – he asks what my guess is they all were thinking … what do you mean? Where are you going? Thomas is of course more famous for his doubting the resurrection – this perhaps set the stage … Thomas is always the one who is not afraid to question what he does not understand – he was far too honest to be content with vague spiritual, pious expressions. He needed clarity – and Jesus gave him just that…

In this section of John’s Gospel Jesus speaks of His departure – “where I am going you know the way”…  Jews would have been all too familiar with God’s ways. Peppered throughout the Old Testament words and phrases and explanations of God’s ways vs. the way of human beings or the ways of the world – understood to be the “holy” way, the way to eternal life. But Jesus brings it together by stating that in all three of these basic Jewish concepts – the way, the truth and the life – I am that way. Yet, what is interesting is the way in which this is phrased in Greek: “where I am leading…” Going is defined as the act of leaving a place … leading is defined as guidance … to guide someone along a particular way.

Where has that sense of “Thomas” gone in you and I? In our culture today, in our Church, we no longer doubt because we no longer believe. We no longer ask questions because we have stopped looking and searching for the truth, for the answers to life and faith … That is the difference between Thomas and the prevailing culture of our times… Thomas pondered, questioned, doubted … but with a heart open to receive, with heart and a mind open to being lead. So many people are lost and they don’t even know it … Why? Because we become a people who wants to figure it out on our own… we desire to go our own way – Thomas wanted to be lead …

In Torino – we were lost. The toll booth guy did the best he could to help us – he told us: take this exit, take this route, look for this type of structure… But what if the toll booth guy left his post, got in the car and said: drive – I’ll take you there… ?? That changes everything. If he had done that – which he did not – it would have changed everything… instead of being a guy who pointed us in the right direction and said “good luck!” – he would have become the way itself … This is what Jesus is getting at … He takes us by the hand, walks with us, strengthens us along the way … He does not just tell us about the way – He is the way… It is time to soften our hearts, open our minds … it is time to begin questioning, searching, looking again… it is time to allow Jesus to lead … because when we let Him lead we are never lost!

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