5th Sunday of Easter, Year A
6-9 year olds
(Adults, begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child, unless the child is a very fluent reader.)
The reading for this Sunday takes place at the Last Supper, before Jesus dies and rises to the full life of God. St. John tells us that before his death, Jesus reminds the disciples of what they know and gets them to think about who he is.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’
That should be a comfort to them--to know that Jesus will make a home together with them in God's house. But they are not comforted. Thomas speaks for all the disciples when he says,
‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’
Thomas wants Jesus to be more specific. A map would be nice. Some directions? Maybe a list of instructions? That would be helpful, right? Thomas has a good point: how can we know the way to the home that Jesus is preparing?
Thomas wants more information, but Jesus seems to give less. He says,
‘I am the way’
Jesus is the way? How can a person be a way? Like Google Maps, telling us which way to turn? Like Siri, saying, "Here's what I found on the web for, 'How can I know the way?'"
I doubt it.
Jesus tells his disciples that they "know the way." They know him. They have a relationship with him. We cannot have a relationship with a map, or directions, or a list of instructions.
They know The Way, personally.
In the parable of the Good Shepherd, Jesus says that,
he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:4)
The sheep know the Way. They follow his voice. How can we follow Jesus' voice? Is Jesus talking about hearing his voice with our ears? Or does he mean a deeper listening? When we spend time with the Word of God, when we pray, are we not listening to something deep down within our hearts? This is a kind of listening that is more of a knowing.
The more we listen, then, the more we know Jesus.
The more we know Jesus, the more we know the Way.
But "the way" sounds like something to do. Don't we have to worry about what to do? Where are the instructions?? I think that is what Thomas wants to know.
Let's look again at what Jesus says when Thomas wants to know more but Jesus seems to give so much less:
‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’
The Way and the Truth. What does Truth mean?
He is who he says he is.
What he says is what he does.
We can trust the Way. Knowing Jesus is enough.
The Way, the Truth, and the Life. Knowing Jesus is more than enough (there's God's abundance, again!) because it is Life. We have Life through knowing Jesus.
Jesus gives Thomas and the disciples much more than instructions or directions or a map. He gives them himself. Knowing Jesus is so much more. It is relationship with the One who calls us each by name.
It is Life.