5th Sunday of Easter
22 May 2011
St. John's, Chicago, IL
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In 1952, President Harry S Truman was finishing his term, and General Dwight Eisenhower was elected to office. Martin Kennelly would be Mayor of Chicago for a few years more until Richard J. Daley would begin his long tenure. King George VI had recently died, and his daughter Elizabeth had become Queen of the United Kingdom.
The United States was involved in the war in Korea, yet a feeling of prosperity prevailed, with an average worked earning $3,400 a year. Three out of five families owned a car; two out of three homes had a telephone; and one in three homes had a television. And Jonas Salk and his associates produced a vaccine for polio.
The African Queen and Singin' in the Rain were two of the most popular films of the year. Nat King Cole's Unforgettable was the big music hit. And it had been a long 44(!) years since the Cubs had won the world series.
This was the era and culture of the day when Henry Knueppel began teaching at St. John's. In that era of comfort and contentment, it was every bit as hard, if not harder, to recognize that there are no other ways to the Father. Surrounded by advances in technology and enjoying the good life after the Second World War, it was easy to be lulled into idolatry, worshiping self, and the culture and inventions that seemed to make life better.
But this is not some sin from 60 years ago, only found in our records. This remains a problem today, and will until we depart this earth. Many people and things are competing for your attention. And you all too easily go along with them.
You may trust in yourself more than a mayor or president. More than the basic telephone and television that are in practically every home today, you can be more concerned with your cell phone or computers. Texting with your best friends maybe more important to you than spending time gathering in God's house, receiving His gifts.
Is any of this your problem? Is this what is obstructing you from the kingdom of God? Perhaps. Jesus is speaking today about any thought, any philosophy, any religion, any trust that distracts you from Jesus Christ. It may be in something or someone else. It may be in your own abilities.
For those newly confirmed, there can especially be a danger of saying you have accomplished something, and have somehow earned your coming to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Or you may find yourself trusting in your own belief. Yes, as innocent as that sounds at first, you can actually trust your believing rather than trusting Jesus! This is an idolatry of self. You then twist faith into a work rather than a gift, and are the rejecting Jesus Christ!
You may follow the broken understanding of some crack-pot preacher, and be surprised that we are still here today. The world did not end, nor was anyone caught up in some misinterpreted "rapture." If Jesus is the Way and the Truth, and He says, "no one knows the day or the hour" of the Son of Man's return, then no one knows! To say that you know is against His Word, and calls Christ a Liar!
Or you may find yourself buying into the lies of the agendas of "Coexist" bumper stickers and those who encourage such things in society. My friends, they do not simply seek that we be good neighbors or be kind to one another. The agenda is to give up on such exclusive claims, like Jesus alone is "the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him." But to give up on that is to say Jesus is a liar!
Jesus Christ is not a liar. "[He is] the Truth!" Christ alone is theTruth that is God's Word made flesh for you. He alone is the Life. The Risen Lord not only speaks truth, He is Truth. He is the absolute pure, good, and only way to life everlasting. He is sure and certain.
When Thomas admits the uncertainty of theTwelve, Jesus Christ calmly and lovingly explains it to them. "Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?" "I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life." Do not fear. Don't worry about seeking out the right philosophy or doing the right work. Jesus has washed you into His Truth and teaches the Way of His Word, that you may feed on His life.
The apostles did not know where Jesus was going, no matter how often or how plainly He told them. Yet He went. He went to the cross, for them and for you.
This same Jesus promises the Twelve, and you, that He is preparing a place for you, and is coming back for you. Of course, many people skip right over the initial step. It is at the cross that Jesus began preparing a place for you.
As He gave Himself up in your place, and redeemed you, He was preparing you for His place. Rising on that third day, He proved to all that He is the Life. And prepared your place to be with Him in the resurrection at the Last Day, which is a day and time known only to the Father. And He has prepared a place for you in His Church on earth, having baptized you, and thus prepares you for the place of His heavenly realms.
The Master Teacher has come, and not only taught about God, He is God. And the Lord God Himself proclaims everlasting life to you, with which He freely fills you!
Dear friends in Christ, be at peace! Our Risen Redeemer speaks His Truth, as He is your Way to Life with Him! Amen.