lunedì 15 maggio 2017

«Ego sum via»

On the last three Sundays of Easter the gospel reading provides some excerpts from Jesus’s discourses during the last supper. This year we read two selections from chapter 14 of John. In the passage we have just heard, Jesus invites his disciples not to be troubled and to have faith in him, just as they already have faith in God. It is an indirect way to exhort them to put Jesus on the same level as God.

It is so long a time that the disciples are with Jesus, but they have not yet understood who Jesus really is. They certainly love him, esteem him; they think that he might be the expected Messiah; but they would never have imagined his divine identity. So, Jesus takes the opportunity of the last supper with his disciples, to reveal himself to them.

The first great revelation is contained in the answer to Thomas’ question: “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus replies: “I am the way (Ego sum via) and the truth and the life.” If you remember, last Sunday Jesus had compared himself with a gate; now, with a road. The idea is the same: if we want to be saved, we have to pass through him. There are no other ways to attain salvation. Jesus is not just one of different ways to salvation; he is the way. In this case Jesus explains better the meaning of his statement. There are two aspects to consider. First, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” So, Jesus is the way to reach God, in whom we can find salvation. It is what Jesus means as he says: “I am the life.” Second, “If you know me, then you will also know my Father.” So, Jesus is the way to know God. It is what he means by saying: “I am the truth.”

The apostles, despite the statements quite clear of Jesus, continue not to understand. Philip asks Jesus: “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Philip is expressing a deep desire of man: to see God; it is a natural instinct. As Saint Augustine says, our heart is restless until it rests in God. But Philip has not yet realized that God has already manifested himself to us through Jesus Christ: he is the Son of God made man. That is why Jesus can say: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” We do not have to wait for any other revelation from God: he has already made himself known in his incarnate Son. Whatever Jesus says, whatever Jesus does, it is God in person who is revealing himself to us.

In the second reading we find another image, which expresses the role of Jesus Christ in the Church—the stone. Nowadays, we do not have a high opinion of stone, because it is hard, it is cold, it is unchangeable; and so, in a “liquid” and emotional society like that in which we live, we cannot appreciate the natural virtues of stone. Stone is what stays firm through cataclysms; on stone the foundations of a house are laid. In the gospel, Jesus invites us to build our house on the rock, and not on sand, if we want it not to collapse during the storm (Mt 7:24-27). Well, Peter compares Jesus with a “living stone,” which was rejected by men, but has become the cornerstone of a spiritual house—the Church. The Church is built on Jesus Christ. Saint Paul says that “no one can lay a foundation other than … Jesus Christ” (1Cor 3:11). Since the Church—the spiritual house—is made up of us, we are the stones of this house; we also are, like Jesus, “living stones.” We are the stones of the house and Jesus is its cornerstone. Since we are founded on him, we participate in his characteristics: as he is the high eternal Priest, we too are a holy, royal priesthood. It is the so-called “common priesthood” of all baptized, through which we can announce the wonderful deeds of God and offer spiritual sacrifices. Considering that we are stones, we can’t complain.