The Way (John 14:1-12)

by | May 31, 2023 | Formation, Reflections

Rereading Andre Dodin’s biography of Saint Vincent de Paul recently, I was struck with the phrase he used to weave together the various threads of Vincent’s life. That is to say, his typical attitudes, mode of going about things, the kinds of projects he took on, and what things he judged to be more or less important — the whole raft of actions and instincts that laid out his person and life.

The phrase the author proposed was “The Way.” More than the sum total of Vincent’s characteristics and achievements, Dodin meant it as a catchall to get at an overall style, a whole manner of walking through his days.

My reason for focusing on this elusive notion is because that’s also the word Jesus uses to describe himself. In John’s gospel, the apostle Thomas challenges Jesus, “We don’t know where you’re going, and so how can we know the way. And Jesus responds, “I am the Way (and the truth and the life)”

Jesus here is taking to Himself that expansive descriptor, “The Way.” It involves more than just his words, more than his healings and miracles, more than his sacrificial road to Calvary. By it he means his whole Self, all he teaches, all those he befriends and disturbs, all his communication not only with the people around him, but also — and especially — with his Father, God. These and so much more go to make up his “Way.”

It is along this all-encompassing and beckoning path Jesus asks us to follow. This translates into letting him lead, certainly by setting our sights on the markers of his life, but even more fully by deepening our person-to-person familiarity with him.

It means coming before him with as much openness and receptivity as we can muster.  Yes, I might be able to recite his words and list his actions, but that objective “head knowledge” falls short of the intimate degree of personal encounter into which he  invites us.

He’s asking us to walk in his Way. And that is, to see through his eyes, to love with his heart, to judge with his values. It’s to invite him into the inner rooms of our lives, to let him take up residence there, and so lead us along this Way set out before us — the Way that is his very own self, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Come Lord Jesus.