HOLDING ON TO JESUS
The first reading (Acts 6: 1-7), taken from the Acts of the Apostles, shows us the early Church as a loving, serving and worshipping community (Acts 6: 1-7 ) and hence how it easily solved a problem of discrimination, by instituting the diaconate for the service of the community. It tells us how the apostles and early Christians, as a Church community, prayerfully and amicably solved a community problem. The Greek-speaking widows complained that the Aramaic-speaking food-ministers were short-changing them at meals in favor of the Aramaic-speaking widows.
The apostles solved the problem by convening a meeting of "the whole community of the disciples" and informing them that they should be the ones to work through their problem. Their task: "Select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to the task" of distributing the food (6:3). This reading tells us how the early Church accepted the challenge of keeping Jesus’ memory alive by remaining a dynamic Christian community, bearing witness to Christ by their unity, fidelity in worship and spirit of loving and humble service.
Every Christian community will have conflicts and differences and challenges. There is no easy way to deal with them. Yet we must deal with them or we break apart as a community. One of the great gifts in our Catholic Church is that we believe that there is an authority structure in the Church and that individuals and individual congregations or individual Churches cannot solve problems alone. We must work together.
The second reading is from the First Letter of Saint Peter. Today’s passage reminds us that we shall inevitable stumble if we do not base our lives on the Word of God. Today so many of us want to base our lives simply on our own personal insights and ways of thinking and our own personal experiences. Surely our insights, ways of thinking and personal experiences are important—but they must always be judged by the Word of God and looked in in the light of that Word. Life is about living this mystery of God’s love for us and responding to His Word. That Word will change us and transform us. If we do not heed the Word, we stumble and fall.
When adversity or trouble comes your way, does it make you lose hope or give into fear and despair, or does it press you closer to the Lord Jesus and to the strength and help he offers you? Do you allow any troubles to rob you of God's gift of peace? As much as we try to avoid it, we inevitably encounter challenges and trials that can shake our confidence and our trust in God. Jesus knew that his disciples would be put to the test when their Master was taken from them during his suffering and passion - his arrest, trial, and rejection by the leaders of his own people, and crucifixion by the Romans. Jesus encouraged his disciples to put their faith and hope in God the Father and also in himself.
Where do you find yourself in the maze of life? Are you scared, sad, discouraged, disappointed, feeling low or struggling with an addiction, vice or challenge in life??? Jesus reminds us in John 14:1, “do not be troubled, trust in God and trust in me”. Very often we pay a lot of attention to what others have to say and not what Jesus says, especially in His word and His church, through His ministers. We have the tendency of paying more attention to the circumstance of our lives and not to the greatness of our GOD. When the Moses had led the people of Israel to a certain point and was about to hand over the reins of leadership to Joshua, Moses himself had to remind the people of the omnipotence of God. In Deut 31:8, scripture records, "It is the LORD who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed".
Jesus consoles his apostles who are sad and disheartened at the prospect of his arrest and crucifixion by assuring them that he is going to prepare an everlasting accommodation for them in his Father’s house in heaven. He gives them the assurance that he will come back to take them to their heavenly abodes.
In Deut 31:3, scripture says, “God will go before you to destroy these nations before you, and you will drive them away”. In verse 4, “Yahweh shall deal with the cities as He dealt with Sihon and Og, the Amorite kings, and their land, which he destroyed”. In verse 6, Yahweh says, “be valiant and strong, do not fear or tremble before them for Yahweh, your God, is with you; He will not leave you or abandon you”. Isaiah 40:10 tells us, “do not be afraid for I am with you”. No matter what our situation in life may be, we must listen to God’s word and trust in Him at all times, for Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away…” Luke 21:33. Remember that He is with us always, even till the end of time, Matt 28:20.
Going further, Jesus declares that he is the safest and surest way to God, discrediting the notions that all religions are equally sure ways to reach God, or that no organized religion but only living a good life of sharing love is necessary to reach God. But Jesus the Way is narrow because it is the way of loving, humble and sacrificial service. Jesus is the Truth who taught revealed truths about God and God’s relation to man. Jesus also taught moral truths by demonstrating them in his life. Jesus is the Life because as God he possesses the eternal life of God and shares his divine life with his disciples through the Word of God and the sacraments.
When a Person is a Way for us to get to the Father and everlasting life, that Way is found only in our relationship with Him, that is, in our union with Him in mind and heart, in will and action. But Jesus’ sure way to God is the narrow way of the cross. It is the least-traveled way of humble, loving, self-giving and committed service to others. To follow the Way of Jesus is to become a special kind of person, a person whose whole being reflects the Truth and the Life that Jesus reveals to us. It is to be a person of Truth and Life who is totally identified with the vision and the values of Jesus. He alone knows the way to the Father because he has been with the Father from the beginning - before time and creation ever existed. The Lord Jesus gives us more than a road map and guide book. He personally is the way to the Father's kingdom, and we cannot miss it if we follow him. He accompanies us on our daily journey and watches over us as the good shepherd who leads and sustains us each and every step of the way. Are you in step with the Lord and do you trust in his guiding hand for your life?
Jesus is the truth because he is the only one who reveals to us the whole truth about God. He teaches us that God is a loving, merciful, providing and forgiving Father. He also teaches us the truth that our triune God lives in each one of the believers. Jesus is the truth also because he has borne testimony to truth, demonstrating through his life and death the love of God for human beings. Truth here is that complete integrity and harmony which Jesus himself revealed, not only in what he said and did, but in the total manifestation of his life and person. Jesus is the truth, the word of God. To seek the truth elsewhere is to stumble and fall, to deal in falsehood and lies. So we pray the 86th Psalm, "Teach me thy way, O Lord, and I will walk in thy truth." Jesus promised his disciples that if they continued in his word, they would learn the truth and the truth would set them free" (John 8:31). The truth which Jesus proclaims has power to set us free from ignorance, deception, and sin.
Jesus is the Life. As God, Jesus has eternal life in himself. In addition, he is the one who gives us his life-giving Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Life also in the sense that he allows us to share in God’s Life through the sacraments. Christ rose from the dead for two reasons: first, to give us eternal life; second, to make us fully alive now. His Spirit animates every moment of our lives. To be fully alive is to be in God. He not only shows us the path of life (Psalm 16:11); he gives the kind of life which only God can give - abundant life that lasts forever. Is there any trouble, fear, or distraction that keeps you from the perfect peace and joy of a life surrendered to Jesus Christ?
The medieval monk Thomas à Kempis the author of Imitation of Christ explains Jesus’ statement, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” thus: "Without the way, there is no going; without the truth, there is no knowing; and without the life, there is no living.”
Theresa of Avila (1515-1582) wrote: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
Wherever we go the Lord Jesus wants us to bring the good news and blessings of his kingdom to as many people as we can. The Lord Jesus calls us the salt of the earth. He wants us to bring the flavor of his goodness and holiness into every area of society we are engaged in. Christ calls us the light of the world. He wants us to make him known and loved by helping people to see the radiance of his love and truth and the beauty of his kingdom.
Prayer – Give us the grace Lord to follow you the way, the truth and the life. May our faith and trust in you never wane despite the challenges that fraught our way. Amen!!!