Acts 6:1-7; 1 Pet 2:4-9; Jn 14:1-12
Fitzgerald in his novel “The Great Gatsby” gives the picture of a grand mansion. Gatsby held legendary parties in the great mansion. Gatsby’s party was almost unbelievably luxurious: guests marvelled over his Rolls-Royce, his swimming pool, his beach, crates of fresh oranges and lemons, buffet tents in the gardens overflowing with a feast,and a live orchestra playing under the stars. Liquor flowed freely. Many people rode from the towns just to have an entry into the mansion that was open to them only on the weekends when there was a party.
In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks about a mansion that has been kept ready for us. Not only on weekends but for ever. The disciples were gathered together with Jesus on the last Thursday night of his life in the Upper Room for the Last Supper. As his final hours on earth approached, Jesus prepared his disciples by explaining to them the full significance of what would happen. He would return to his Father and send them the gift of the Holy Spirit. And after dedicating their lives to leading others to faith through the power of that Holy Spirit they will be reunited with him in his Father's house. “I am going to prepare a living space for you, a mansion, a place for you for all eternity…. I will come again and take you to that place.”
This assurance of Jesus strengthened millions for centuries. Today’s readings tell us how this assurance helped the early Church to accept the challenges. Ever since, millions have placed their trust in the promise of Jesus. When St. John Chrysostom was summoned before the Roman emperor Arcadius and threatened with banishment, he replied, “You cannot banish me, for the world is my Father’s house.” “Then I will kill you,” exclaimed the emperor angrily. “No, you cannot,” retorted Chrysostom, “because my life is hidden with Christ in God.” “Your treasures shall be confiscated,” the emperor replied grimly. “Sir, you can’t do that because my treasures are in heaven as my heart is there.” “I will drive you from your people and you shall have no friends left,” threatened the emperor. “That you cannot do either, Sir, for I have a Friend in heaven who has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’”
Jesus reminded His disciples that in a short time their life was going to fall in. The world was going to collapse in chaos around them. At such a time there was only one thing to do. The psalmist had sung: “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”(Ps 27). If, in the dark hour we believe there is a purpose in life and even the undesirable becomes bearable and even in the darkness there is glimmer of light. The orientation to his goal strengthened St John Chrysostom to face the threats of the emperor with smile and confidence.
When Moses led the people of Israel through the desert they had a goal: to reach the promised land- the land where milk and honey flowed. Moses headed towards the Promised Land, and all the other people followed him. One of the greatest thoughts in the New Testament is that “Jesus goes on in front of us to follow. He said to His disciples “I am going to prepare a place for you.” The disciples were familiar with this concept. In the Roman Army there were the reconnaissance troops. They went ahead of the main body of the army to blaze the trail and to ensure that it was safe for the rest of the troops to follow. The harbour of Alexandria was very difficult to approach. When the great corn ships came into it a little pilot boat was sent out to guide them along the channel into safe waters. The pilot boat went first to make it safe for others to follow. That is what Jesus did. He blazed the way to heaven and to God that we might follow in His steps.
The words of Jesus, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Reassured people through centuries. All who followed him reached the height of glory. The two great contemporary examples are the late Pope John Paul 11 and mother Theresa. Their trust in Jesus made them famous during their life time and it made them glorious after their death. So Jesus, stands ahead us as the Way, the Truth and the Life. We should hold on to him.
There is a story of a father who had to pay heavy prize for his foolish action. The phone rang at 1:00am in the home of Leo Winters, a brilliant Chicago surgeon. It was the hospital telling him that a young boy had been tragically mangled in a car accident. Dr. Winter's hands were probably the only ones in the city skilled enough to save that boy's life. He got on his clothes, jumped into his car and decided the quickest route to the hospital would be to drive through a dangerous neighbourhood, though the time was critical, he decided to take the risk. He came to a stoplight and a man in a grey hat and a dirty flannel shirt, opened the door, pulled him out of his seat and screamed, "Give me your car!" The doctor tried to explain that he was on an emergency call, but the man refused to listen. He threw the doctor out of the car, jumped in and sped off. This doctor wandered for more than 45 minutes looking for a phone so he could call a taxi. When he finally got to the hospital, more than an hour had passed. He ran through the hospital doors, up the stairs, to the nurse's station. The nurse on duty looked at him, shook her head and said, "Doctor I am sorry, you are too late. The boy died about 30 minutes ago. His father is in the chapel if you want to see him. He is awfully upset, because he couldn't understand why you didn't come to help." Doctor Winters walked hurriedly down the hallway and entered into that chapel. Weeping at the altar was a man dressed in a dirty flannel shirt and gray hat, whose eyes were blinded by tears. The boy's father looked up at the doctor in horror and realized his tragic mistake. He had foolishly pushed away the only man in that city who could have saved his son. (Kent Crockett, Making The Day Count For Eternity, pp. 27-28.)
As Jesus stands before us to lead us, confidently we should walk on our way to the Father. Our actions, our words and our life should be a testimony to the contemporary world that we walk in the right path. Christian belief is not to argue about Jesus, but to listen to Him and follow Him.