Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Got Just 3 Words for You

There is much talk about Jesus during Holy week and the Easter season that follows, even from secular sources. All the homilies & sermons, all the writings & scripture and even all the movies & television shows about Jesus can be distilled down into three basic elements expressed by these words – Way, Truth and Life, and these three words describe what mankind has lost just as precisely as a key fits a lock.

A most curious point is how Jesus describes himself as the way, the truth and the life using the curious phrase “I am”. If someone were to say I have or I know the way, the truth and the life, we must study what they have or what they know if we want to obtain it. Who that person actually is would be of secondary importance if any importance at all. Consider an ordinary teacher; the knowledge he or she is trying to covey in class is our primary concern. The person teaching is not the focus and a substitute teacher is possible to find. If someone were to say, however, I am the way, the truth and the life, then we must study who that person IS. “I am” relates to “who” as knowing or having relates to “what”. Christ does not simply give us the way, the truth and the life and then leave us to follow as best we can. He gives us Himself, for He is all three and there is no substitute.

There is a problem. The way is closed. There is a chasm. We live in a fallen world. We cannot see God face to face as we are. Jesus is the bridge that reaches across the chasm between God and man. Think of the way as a road to salvation that was closed, but is now open for everyone to travel on. Of course, if one holds that there is no way or the way it is not relevant, then for them, it is as if the way were still closed.

Once the way is open, how do we navigate it? Once a road is open we don’t just wander around it like lost sheep hoping to get somewhere eventually. A road always has a direction and a way of traveling upon it. There are lines and boundaries; there are signs and lights to obey. There are other travelers to consider. We cannot understand the road if we do not understand the rules of the road. We need truth to guide us on the journey. So how can we know the truth as we travel? How about the Bible? That’s a good start, but not a good end. The Bible will ultimately point to something else. “…the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” (1 Tim 3:15) Of course this begs the question “Which church?”, since there are so many and they all have different road rules, but this is a question for other posts. See HERE and HERE.

If Jesus is the life, and we wish to live, then He must live in us. The strength of man alone is not enough to walk the way. Imagine you were to travel to Mars just as you are. Not only would you never be able to live on Mars, but you would not even survive the journey. The long journey to Mars would require many special systems, equipment & supplies to sustain your physical life. In the same way our souls cannot travel back to God unaided. We need a supernatural life.
  • Baptism is the birth or beginning point of the supernatural life.
  • We can receive daily nourishment for the journey via the Eucharist, which is none other than the Lord himself as our food.
  • Just like the body needs healing from sickness & injury on a long and difficult journey, our souls need healing from sin on our supernatural journey, so the Lord gives us the sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • The Journey is long. We need to grow and mature while we travel, so we are equipped with the Grace given at Confirmation.
  • As we grow and mature in our supernatural life, we are responsible to help others along on this challenging voyage. Our vocation helps us to advance the entire Kingdom of God forward.
  • There is even a special Grace near the end of our journey to help us finish well. The anointing of the Sick.

 “In three words Way, Truth, Life, Our Lord sums up what He is. In the same three words we may summarize what He did. He opened to men the way of salvation, gave them the truth by which that might know the way, and the life by which they might travel it.”
- Frank Sheed from Theology and Sanity.

Much in this post was inspired by lay apologist Frank Sheed. We all need some Sheed!!

Frank Sheed 1897 - 1982