“I AM the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 4:6)
These words of Jesus are some of his famous words. They speak of our fundamental Christian belief that the way to the Father is Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, for Jesus and the Father are one.
But, deep in our hearts, do we believe these words of Jesus? It’s an essential question each of us must answer because our Christian faith is not merely sentimental or ritualistic but is an ascent to a firm belief that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is indeed the only and true Way to God, the Father.
We all long to be with God at the end of our earthly lives, except for atheists. St. Augustine describes the human “restlessness” in his much-quoted dictum: “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
This divine state of a fully “rested” or peaceful heart is something we long for, not only after our earthly life but even in the here and now. Every day we long for a life free from anxiety, fear, anger, and sadness amidst any health issue, financial problem, or threat of recession and world war.
In his book, Wrestling with God: Finding Hope and Meaning in Our Daily Struggles to be Human, Ronald Rolheiser explores this human heart longing, drawing from Karl Rahner’s explanation of what we desire explicitly and what we want implicitly. He writes:
“Our instincts and natural desires draw us toward various explicit things—love for another person, friendship, a work of art or music, a vacation, a movie, a good meal, a sexual encounter, an achievement that brings us honor, a sporting event, and countless others—that, on the surface at least, would seem to have nothing to do with God and are drawing our attention away from God. But, as Rahner shows, and is evident in our experience, in every one of those explicit desires, there is present implicitly, beneath the desire and as the deepest part of that desire, the longing for and pursuit of something more profound. Ultimately, we are longing for the depth that grounds every person and object: God.”
Might not this be the disciples’ longing in their “troubled hearts” in this Sunday’s Gospel (John 14:1012)? Jesus told them not to let their hearts be troubled, for they have found Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It’s their profound belief and relationship with Jesus that would bring peace, joy, and order to their lives and, ultimately, eternal life with God.
But to believe and to follow Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the life entails living a life of love, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, humility, generosity, and service to God and humankind. The road to this way of life is narrow, but by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit, we can walk this challenging road until we reach our eternal home with God.
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.