Christ is the Way. There are many ways to take but none of them leads to the Father, except Jesus. When we live by our own rules for a time we may feel happy, but eventually we will find out that our self-centeredness will only lead us astray. Proverbs 19,3 says: “Their own folly leads people astray, yet in their hearts they blame the Lord.”
One of the raging issues of the day is the bill to reinstate the death penalty. Studies after studies conclude that it doesn’t deter crime, but strict and consistent law enforcement does. Also certain investment opportunities and development aid are pegged upon our country’s upholding of international treaties against the death penalty. If it doesn’t deter crime and will only result to lesser economic benefits to our country, why insist on the death penalty? The one thing it satisfies is a limited and retributive form of justice, expressed in the desire for vengeance – an eye for an eye, a life for a life. But is it the way of Christ?
The way of Christ is the way of the cross, which is the radical expression of the way of love. In His time on earth Jesus has shown His love for the poor, the outcasts, and public sinners. He prevented the summary execution of a woman caught in adultery. He promised paradise to the dying criminal who was crucified with Him at Golgotha. He sacrificed His life on the cross for our sake.
People who feel nothing but contempt whenever their pastors speak about giving second chances to criminals, or against the rampant killings happening around, do not follow the way of Christ. They must be following a different messiah.
Christ is the Truth. He is more than just a teacher of sensible ideas or a dispenser of inspirational quotes. He offers nothing less than the very truth of Himself: that He and the Father are one. Whoever knows Him, knows the Father. He is the fullness of the revelation of God. He says in John 8,3: “you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.
If Christ’s truth sets us free, then those who twist God’s word for their own ends, those who knowingly spread fake news, those who contribute to a culture of post-truth and alternative facts, deceive people to enslave them. Today we see a strategy that exploits people’s fears and frustrations by pointing them first to a common enemy as object of hate, often a minority or a disadvantaged class; and then to a worldly savior, a false messiah who offers simplistic solutions to complex problems and, in exchange, only asks for their blind trust and loyalty.
It is important that we know who we believe. For Christ Himself says: “whoever believes in me will do the works I do” (John 14,12). We know we have fully believed in Christ when we have become more and more like Him. For the purpose of discipleship is that we become who we follow. Imagine if we are deceived into following a false messiah.
Christ is the Life. Christ, the source of life, want us to live life to the full. In John 10,10, He says: “A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
In a society where the culture of death pervades, fullness of life is still celebrated but only for a few. The culture of death is not just about the ubiquity of killings. It starts with the thinking that people, whose lives fall below the moral standards of honest law-abiding citizens, don’t deserve the full protection of the law. Human rights and due process are wasted on them. Some of them may not be even humans anymore. When we fall into this trap, we become purveyors of the culture of death. We become desensitized to the cry of victims and their families. News of yet another victim of summary execution, would mean one less threat to our family’s safety eliminated.
Christ as life reminds us that every life is sacred because it comes from God. And He wants everyone to be saved, not just the law-abiding. In fact, He comes to call sinners, which means He comes to call all of us to conversion and renewal. So unless we choose life for everyone, we are on the side of sin and death. The self-righteous will not have a place in His Kingdom.
In a time of war, post-truth, and the culture of death, it becomes even more important to proclaim Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. For when we are lost, Christ is our way. When we are confused, He is our truth. When we are down and broken, He is our life.
HOMILY for the Fifth Sunday of Easter