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The 5th Sunday Homily of Easter-Fr. Andrew Lee

We have heard post resurrection stories for the first 3 weeks in a row after Easter Sunday. But last weekend we heard the Good Shepherd Gospel and this week we hear Jesus’ last supper discourse in John’s Gospel. It might seem to be strange to hear a part of Jesus’ farewell discourse during late Eastertime but it makes sense only in its liturgical context. Liturgically we are heading for Jesus’ ascension. Jesus is leaving us soon, ascending into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of the Father. Therefore, the Church wants us to listen to Jesus’ last words before He leaves.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tries to show us how to continue to follow Him until the end of the world. Being curious of what Jesus is saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God…If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be,” the disciples start asking questions. Thomas asks, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Thomas is looking for directions.

You have probably been lost more than once. One time I got a sick call and took off to visit the sick person for the sacrament of anointing. She didn’t give me her address. She gave me the direction. She said, “Please take the park’s highway. When you see a storage with a pink roof, turn left. You will meet a fork at the end of the road. Make a right and my house is in the second driveway on your left.” I thought it was clear. When I got to the area following her direction, I ended up in an abandoned shed. There was no house in the second driveway. I was looking for her house in that subdivision by knocking on every door and asking them if they knew the sick person. Nope. I couldn’t find her. I got lost. It is important to have the right direction otherwise you will be lost. This was just a direction of roads. But what about a direction in life?

Sometimes we don’t know the way to go in life. When I was in my college, I didn’t know what to do after graduation. I was stressed a lot by my unstable future. I was anxious. I decided to go to the graduate school not because I wanted to study more, but because I didn’t know what to do after graduation. I couldn’t find the way. I had no future. I was worried. A sister gave me a book, titled “In Russia with God.” It is an autobiography of a Jesuit priest who worked in Russia under the communism government. He was sent to Russia for missions but he was caught and put into a prison and was there for about 20 yrs. Even though he was in the prison, he administered the sacrament of confession to the inmates secretly. After he was released, he took care of a parish with enthusiasm. When I finished reading the book, I found my way. I felt like I went through a dark tunnel and I found the bright way. I thought to myself, “This is my life. I will live like him.” I decided to join my congregation and became a missionary like him. I found the direction of my life.

Thomas asks, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Thomas is looking for the way. He wants to know where Jesus is going. He wants to know the direction. But Jesus is not talking about where He is going as a place with an address. Jesus is not talking about an actual way to go. He is talking about the relationship. Jesus wants His disciples to be able to recognize the relationship that exists between the disciples and Himself. This is divine relationship. This is mutual indwelling. This is the trust between the Master and His disciples. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Jesus is asking us today to join the wonderful relationship with Him if we think we are lost and don’t know the right direction. Jesus is saying today, “If you don’t know where you are going, please look at me and put yourselves into my loving relationship. You will receive life in me and you will find direction.” Today Jesus moves our attentions from way-finding to the right relationship with Himself and His Father.

In today’s first reading, we heard a conflict in the early Church. It was a conflict between spiritual need and material need. The Apostles found a solution by selecting seven deacons filled with faith and the Holy Spirit. This solution was for the continuation to celebrate the Eucharist and spread the Word of God. The whole community sought to establish the right relationship with God by meeting spiritual and material needs. The establishment of the office of deacons in the Church has nothing to do with hierarchy. It is always associated with the spiritual growth of the Church through the right relationship with God. In the second reading, St. Peter tells us who we are. He says, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own.” This identity is defined through the relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus elevates our identity as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation. This is coming from the faithful relationship with God.

People are looking for ways. They don’t know where to go in their lives. They are lost without knowing what to do. But we have a clear vision about where we are heading because Jesus proclaims today that He is the way and the truth and the life. Jesus invites us to the intimate Father-Son relationship. The early Church finds the right solution in the relationship with their Founder through the celebration of Eucharist and Words of God. This is where we are going.

This is the Easter time. We are asked to spend some time reflecting on life in Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus offers this life in the Eucharist every day and invites us to the relationship with Him. He is the way, the truth and the life. It is here where we are nourished on the bread of life. It is the relationship that grows in Christ. This relationship allows us to reflect on our destination and direction, our belief in Christ. This is our calling as a holy priesthood that sanctifies us and leads us to the Father-Son relationship. 

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