Monthly Scripture Reflection
“How can we know the way?”
This May we continue to bask in the glory of Jesus’ Resurrection and then in his Ascension. Reading Acts, we get caught up in the joy of the first followers as they begin to figure out how to live the Christian way of life. We learn that with the Apostles devoting themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” and the newly appointed deacons taking care of the “daily distribution” of the material goods all shared in common, the “number of disciples…increased greatly.”
“The word of God continued to spread.” That’s no wonder, as the Gospels of St. John and St. Matthew are filled with comforting quotes of Jesus assuring us of salvation. “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” “I am going to prepare a place for you.” “I will come back again and take you to myself.” “The Father…will give you another Advocate to be with you always.” “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father.” “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
But among these messages of hope, there are a few admonitions that show that the path for following Jesus can be a rocky road. In his first Epistle, St. Peter reminds us that it is by Jesus’ “wounds you have been healed,” giving us “an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” We should “rejoice…that you share in the sufferings of Christ.” “Whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed.”
Today we really don’t have to worry that our suffering will be about being flogged, imprisoned or executed for our faith. But somehow we might have to “suffer for doing what is good”? And be patient while being maligned for it? Doing these things, we are told, is indeed offering “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” That is how to follow in his footsteps.
What stumbling blocks might we find along the path? Lack of time–a harried home life–hectic schedules–addiction to screens–the allure of material values? It’s hard to keep our distracted eyes on the road. “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” says Peter. We have stumbled by “disobeying the word.” We had “gone astray…but [we] have now returned.” Time to move forward.
Even the disciples when first meeting the risen Jesus in Galilee “worship, but they doubted.” So perhaps we should not be overly troubled when we find it hard to find our bearings. Jesus just before his Ascension tells us that when the promised Holy Spirit comes, our “hearts will be enlightened” and “you will receive power…to be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” That’s our GPS.
“How can we know the way?” Jesus answers,
“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.”
Alleluia! Jesus is risen. Jesus is ascended. Alleluia!