In Today’s Gospel, (John 14: 1-12) Jesus is telling His disciples that He is leaving them. But this message is not meant to leave the disciple in despair. No! Quite the contrary, this message is one that leads the disciple to fullness of life. Jesus indicates that He is going to prepare a place for them. The disciples are told that where He is going they know the way.
Thomas asks Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus responds: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father.” In other words, to know Jesus is to know the way, the truth and the life. To know Jesus is to know the Father. To know and believe in Jesus is to know that we belong to His Father and our Father.
In this discourse the night before He died, Jesus reveals one of the deepest mysteries of God, namely, that God is eternal relationship. When asked by Philip to ‘show us the Father’ Jesus responds: “whoever sees me has seen the Father.” What else can this mean other than the relationship that exists between Jesus and God the Father is so intimate that to see One is to see the Other. To know One is to know the Other. God is eternal, and therefore, God is eternal relationship. This is why Jesus also says in today’s Gospel “do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”
This eternal relationship that IS God does not stop with God, but because God is an eternal, life-giving Reality, this Life that IS God is continually creating new life, and in Christ continually redeeming life. Because Jesus returned to the Father, and promised to return to us in order to take us to Himself, we know and believe that all life is destined to return to its Divine Source, which is the eternal relationship of Love that is God.
God’s love is fruitful, prolific, always generating new life, always sustaining love. Every human person is drawn forth from this Source of Life and Love. Regarding this Divine Creativity of God, Ilia Delio, OSF writes this in her book: The Humility of God:
That God creates, however, reflects who God is, namely, self-communicative love. Because the nature of God lies precisely in fecundity, the question of “how” God creates cannot be separated from the question of “why” God creates, since the very nature of the Trinity as self-communicative love is itself the basis of action. Bonaventure’s theology allows us to say that the triune God does not act on discrete levels of creation, as if connecting things together nor does God act in every single discrete event as an individual “actor.” God does not “act” to cause things to change; rather, things change because God is love and love is attractive. God is a relationship of love whose “action” in creation is an eternal-temporal “act” of love. (p. 81)
God is one eternal procession of Love; never ending, never stopping, always loving. Jesus came to redeem and re-orient the human heart to this Original course. That is why still today, when a human person or when society as a whole loses this orientation, there can be no true harmony, peace, or justice. There can be no true human fulfillment, because the human heart fails to be satisfied with anything less than it is created for; namely love.
Pope Paul VI said just as much in 1968: “man cannot find true happiness – towards which he aspires with all his being – other than in respect of the laws written by God in his very nature, laws which he must observe with intelligence and love.” (Humanae Vitae, #31) The fracturing of society we are witnessing today is directly related to the diminishing of this fundamental truth, this life-giving wisdom.
In chapter 15 of John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about the absolute necessity of remaining IN Him. “I am the vine, you are the branches. Remain in me as I remain in you.” Jesus is LIFE because of the relationship He shares with God. Our lives will only bear fruit to the degree that we remain in Christ. When we separate ourselves from Christ, we cannot bear fruit, we remain barren. “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.”
Every human person knows sin, and thus knows this ‘barrenness.’ Likewise, every disciple knows the life-giving reality of being in relationship with Christ. “On behalf of Christ, let us be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor 5:20)
Because ‘love is attractive,’ as disciples of Christ, let us continue to live the fullness of our Christian vocation. Let us live in relationship with God. Let us live in love our relationships in the world. Then, this ‘love that is attractive’ by God’s divine power, will change the world.