In his last discourse to the disciples Jesus says he is going in order to prepare a place for all in his Father’s house where there are many rooms. This is the desire of God: that all of us arrive at that place to continue on living in communion with him. Then he says: you all know the way. A desperate or exasperated Thomas says he doesn’t know where Jesus is going nor how to get there. Thanks to Thomas’ outspokenness about his shock, confusion and uncertainness at hearing Jesus’ farewell words, Jesus had to clarify his statement. As we hear in today’s Gospel, he says: I am the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus places himself in the center as the way to a complete relationship of communion with the Father. His life of service, self-sacrifice and forgiveness is the way. Christians were often called people of the way. Many native American cultures call Christians “people of the Jesus Way”.
There are many paths that one can follow in life: violence, self-centeredness, vengeance, fame, vendettas, grudges, political parties, ideologies, material gain, or riches. We can organize our lives around those ends and walk down those paths.
During the 1980s and 90s Peru was immersed in a war with the government on one side and the terrorists of the Shining Path on the other. Over the course of 25 years Peru was virtually destroyed by the violence from both sides. St. John Paul II arrived in February of 1985 and spoke not about a shining path of political revolution but rather about a luminous way of faith towards renewal. The way that leads us to an encounter on the risen Christ in Galilee (place of our daily lives), as the Pope said in this meeting with the indigenous people of the Amazon jungle. In a shanty town slum area of Lima John Paul called on the political, wealthy, and industrial people to give back the bread they had taken from the poor.
The many paths in life lead to destruction. It is easy for us to get lost on all these paths in our individual or personal lives and in our communal lives. The way of Jesus leads to life and communion.