Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.” Until preparing for this Sunday, I always understood these words in a straightforward manner. They were like three chapter headings in the manual of Christian discipleship. If I did the things implied in “the way” and “the truth” then I would be rewarded with “the life.” I thought Christ’s words were addressed to my hands and head. Just in the past few days, however, I have come to understand his teaching as aiming not for our hands and heads, but for our hearts.
When the Lord speaks of “the way” it is easy for us to think he is targeting our behaviour. As such, his “way” is to become our path, that is, we are to act as he acted. We can reduce the Christian life to a life of imitation. It is like the popular slogan of many years ago – “What would Jesus do?” With this understanding, the Christian life feels similar to a costume, that is, “the way” is external and different from ourselves. I need to learn the actions in order to fit in. When he speaks of “the truth” again, it is easy for us to think it’s all about what we believe. If one believes correctly then one can belong to the Christian flock. But believing the Christian faith to be true and acting accordingly is not merely a conviction of our minds and will, of our heads and hands. It also involves a conviction of our hearts. And that “the way, the truth and the life” is a plea to our hearts is given with the full meaning of “the life.”
The Lord is offering with “the life,” a more basic and vital human need. He is telling us this most beautiful desire of God the Father. “The life” that the Lord gives is a life of communion with the Father. We are being asked to let the Father have what he desires. To let our Father have us forever. Or as Christ said to the disciples, “I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” We are offered through the Lord the free gift to be loved eternally; to be judged mercifully and compassionately always; and, to be “dandled” with joy on the Father’s knee. In “the way” and “the truth” Jesus gives us access to the Father and reveals him to us. As he says in response to St. Philip, “[w]hoever has seen me has seen the Father.” It is extraordinary to realize that the desire of God and enacted by his initiative is to be in eternal communion with us. Jesus Christ is indeed “the way, the truth and the life.” His is not primarily a teaching, it is rather an offer. God is offering God’s very self out of love and thoroughly in love with you. How blessed we are.
God Bless and take care,