5th Sunday of Easter – 10th May 2020 — Gospel: John 14, 1-12
This passage serves as the beginning of the farewell discourse of Jesus (chs. 14-17), with some dialogues that turn on honest questions. No wonder the disciples are troubled of the Master’s imminent departure. Yet, Jesus’ words of mutual indwelling are comfort and hope, promise and plain speech for his disciples. The oft-repeated language of mutual indwelling, – “Where I am, you may be also,” “know me, know the Father,” “See me, see the Father,” “I am in the Father, the Father is in me,” “the Father dwells in me,” “You will do the works that I do” – points to the new style through which God, the Father works in and through Jesus. In knowing Jesus we come to know God. In hearing Jesus’ teachings we hear of God’s love for us through him.
To the troubled disciples Jesus continues his reassurance saying that they know the way to the place where he is going. But Thomas and Philip continue to be troubled. Their anxiety about being left alone is clouding their vision, their perception, and their hearts. And so, they voice out honestly their opinion about the unknowns. From the perspective of being left alone, their question makes sense. Thomas first says straight out, “We don’t know”. This is not his denial, but ignorance. Literally, Thomas wants clear cut direction and necessary information related to “the way”. Philip is also not convinced of Jesus’ response to Thomas’ quest. He wants a satisfied answer about Jesus’ Father. Though Philip walked with Jesus and listened to his teachings, yet he did not understand or feel changed of his experience with Jesus. Thomas and Philip are both puzzled about how to follow Jesus. They are interested in spotting out, when they don’t know ‘where Jesus is going or what the Father looks like.’ In expressing their honest opinions, both want to be real and sincere disciples. In relating with Jesus, they didn’t understand how the Father is present in him or how they themselves will enter by faith into that wondrous flow of life between Father the Son.
Though Jesus must have felt frustrated and exasperated, their questions reveal how far his beloved disciples grasped all he wanted them to see and believe. Jesus’ continues to reassure them through his response (14,9). Here Jesus manifests his nature, which echoes an affirmation much before in the prologue (1,18). There should be no misunderstanding – Jesus himself is all they need to know and to relate (Acts 4,12; Jn 3,16-18; 1 Jn 5,5.12; 2 Jn 9). To know him is to know both the way and the destination, which is communion with the Father. For he said, “From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (14,7b). In his most memorable saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (14,6), Jesus himself is the road to the Father’s home. He himself is the way to experience the very essence of truth and the fullness of life. Through his self-sacrificial way, his brutal honesty about human nature and the necessity for forgiveness, and his reverence for human life, Jesus manifested the greatest aspirations of his Father. Jesus calls his disciples into a future that is wholly dependent upon relationship with Jesus and the Father.
Here the disciples are challenged to believe in Jesus, which is emphasized six times (14,1.10-12). This challenge is to believe in who Jesus is, what he said, and what he did. Faith in Jesus’ person and hope in his promise will comfort the troubled hearts. Like the Patriarchs who give away their legacy and wisdom to their progeny, Jesus has no goods to dispense, instead he gives to his believers the “power” to do even “greater works” than Jesus himself did during his earthly sojourn (14,12). Jesus continues to promise his assistance, support and power to his believers.