The last two days, the Gospel has overlapped by one verse, John 14:6. It appeared at the beginning of yesterday’s Gospel reading, and at the beginning of today’s:
“I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
To me, this has always been a rather clear and uncompromising statement. How can a person come to the Father? Only through Jesus Christ, who is not just a way, a truth and one possible life, but rather the way, the truth, and the life, without whom no one can come to the reward of knowing God the Father, the one who created us for himself. This statement is Gospel, so we are called to believe in it, but it is one of those Gospel statements that is, well, a little troubling.
Because sometimes we would rather not make waves. Hey, anything you do is okay as long as you’re a good person. And aren’t all religions going for the same thing anyway? Well, that’s not what we’re hearing this morning, is it? St. Paul was pretty clear on this in today’s first reading from Acts, too. Listen to the end of his declaration one more time:
“We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you
that what God promised our fathers
he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus,
as it is written in the second psalm,
You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”
Speaking to the Jews at Antioch, Paul makes it clear that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophets, even if the Jews at Jerusalem had Jesus put to death. Jesus alone is the one of whom prophets and psalmists have spoken, and we are now called upon to accept that truth.
As troubling as this Gospel may be, we have to look at it and come to terms with it, because it is the core of the Gospel faith. If Jesus isn’t the one way to the Father and to eternal life, then we could pick a faith that’s a lot easier. We could stay home and pray to trees and try to be as nice as we can to everyone. But the Gospel demands a lot more than that. It demands that we recognize Jesus as the one truth, and his way – which, let’s face it, is the Way of the Cross – is the one way, and his life of service and love is the only life there is. And if that’s true, we all have to be proclaimers of the Gospel so that this troubled world might be converted.