The Bishops Homily – 5th Sunday Of Easter

5th Sunday Of Easter
Acts 6: 1-7
I Pet. 2:4-9
John 14:1-12

INTRODUCTION: Our reflection this Sunday is on the Last Farewell of Jesus the night before he died. It is his longest speech recorded in the Gospel and his Last Will and Testament. It is for us, believers of Jesus, to take his Last Will seriously. The distinctive texture of our Christian Faith is on powerful display on this Gospel passage proclaimed before us today.

(1) The whole passage speaks of the divinity of Jesus. “Have faith in God; have faith also in me!” Note how strange Jesus’ statement is. No prophet like Isaiah or Jeremiah or any founder of religion like Mohammed would ever make such a claim. They always talk as distinct from God. Not so with Jesus! He makes himself parallel or equal with God. “Where I am going, you know the WAY!”

(2) Thomas, who represents the many intellectual Christians today, asks: “Master, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” Jesus answers Thomas: “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE!” Just like what he did at his opening statement, he does it again to Thomas. He does not distinguish himself from the Absolute WAY, TRUTH, LIFE! Jesus is the one and only WAY, TRUTH, LIFE! Philip dares Jesus another time with, “Master, just show us the Father and that will be enough for us!” Jesus answers Philip: “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say: Just show us the Father?” Jesus is unflinching in his words to us first, then to Thomas, and again to Philip that he and the Father are one; in the words of St. Paul that Jesus is the human face “the Icon” of the Invisible God. Hard words to take at this time of freedom and no absolute talk! It would have been easier to take if Jesus were just a great prophet, a great teacher but that would not be Christianity anymore. That is why Jesus can claim he who does not gather with him scatters; he who is not against him is for him.

(3) With all his claim to his divinity, the end of this passage serves as a paradox and a great consolation to us, followers of Jesus, “Amen, Amen I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do and will do even greater ones than these. . .”  In the light of the history of the Church, those who believe in Jesus did much more than what Jesus did in his lifetime. Jesus healed a number of people, perhaps thousands in Judea and Samaria; the believers of Jesus healed many more through the many Catholic Hospitals and many Religious Congregations of their Founders. Jesus in his preaching reached thousands; Fulton Sheen reached millions in mass media. Jesus walked through 140 miles in Israel as an itinerant preacher; his missionaries up and down the centuries covered the whole world. Francis Xavier is by far a better missionary than Jesus was. The above words of Jesus is fulfilled in us believers of Jesus through the centuries!

CONCLUSION: How do we resolve this paradox and make sense of all these? Jesus is indeed the Icon of the Invisible God; the human access to God. But who is God? God is love. Therefore, what God wants is more for us. The more we proclaim Jesus’ divinity is not to denigrate us but to capacitate us to do even more than he did in his lifetime. The more we proclaim about the Divinity of Jesus, the more we become more inclusive more appreciative, and more able to do more charitable works than he was — the very things that people want to do today.

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches