A reflection for the fifth Sunday of Easter

Reading: John 14: 1-14

‘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.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’

Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Reflection for Fifth Sunday of Easter

‘At last we have a roadmap’. ‘At least now we can plan for the future’. Remarks like these have been voiced by many people during the past week since the Taoiseach announced the timetable for reopening Irish society. While not everything is certain and the different stages are dependent on keeping the COVID-19 virus under control, at least we now have a broad outline of what may happen. We know when we should be able to have contact with family and friends. We know when it is intended for schools and churches to open. We know when different types of commercial activity should restart and when travel restrictions should be lifted. We even have an idea of when it will be possible to get a haircut (mine is beginning to resemble a large Brillo pad!)

Not knowing is difficult and uncertainty causes our anxieties and fears to grow. In today’s gospel reading, the disciples of Jesus were deeply perturbed because he had just told them that he would be going away and they would not be able to go with him. This conversation took place in the upper room after they had shared the Last Supper together. The disciples needed reassurance and so, Jesus set out a roadmap for them. He began with the final destination.

“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”. Jesus had no intention of abandoning his friends, rather he was going to prepare an eternal home for them. This is the home that he promises to everyone who believes in him.

Understandably, the disciples were confused and upset and it was hard for them to grasp the meaning of Our Lord’s words about eternal life. They were concerned with the here and now, the immediate separation from Jesus and the fear of what lay ahead. Thomas bluntly expressed their thoughts: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Our Lord replied with one of the great ‘I am’ sayings recorded in John’s gospel: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. Jesus came to reveal to people the truth about God and he embodied that truth in his words and actions. He came to make known the Creator and source of all life and to invite people to participate in the life of God. Jesus is the one who leads us on the pathway of life now and eventually to our eternal destination.

The exchange with Philip provides us with further enlightenment. All that is to be known about God has been revealed in his Son, Jesus, and the way for us to know him is through faith: “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me”. Over the course of the ensuing discourse, Jesus set out more details of the roadmap of how his followers would live in relationship with him after he departed from them. For now, it is enough to know that faith is the key to that relationship with Christ, and we have direct access to him through prayer: “If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it”.

In the present times of uncertainty, it is good to know that there is a divine roadmap. This gives us meaning, purpose and direction in life. At a time when so many around the world are grieving and over 1,400 people in this country have lost loved ones to the COVID-19 virus, we can take great comfort in the promise of eternal life and that Jesus will come to take us to the eternal home he has prepared for us.

Collect for the fifth Sunday of Easter

Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him:
Grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour,
glory and might, now and in all eternity. Amen.

Prayers of intercession

Blessed are you Lord our God;
You sent your only Son to reveal your truth,
and to lead us in the way to life that is eternal.
Help us to follow faithfully in the way,
trusting that you are always with us.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for your church, that it may be a signpost
pointing people to the way of Christ.
Bless Pat, our bishop and the people of this diocese.
May we be faithful in following your way.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our country, our government and all who exercise
leadership during the present crisis. Give wisdom to all who devise
economic policy, manage our health service and maintain public services.
Guide our elected representatives as they negotiate the formation of a new government that they may seek to serve the needs of all people.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all whose hearts are troubled;
those who are worried about the survival of their business;
those with financial worries, who fear losing their income;
those who have lost their homes;
poultry farmers whose flocks have been affected by avian flu;
all who are anxious for their loved ones.
Assure them of your presence and grant them your peace.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for young people who are affected by the cancellation of the leaving cert. exams and those who are worried about their future.
We remember the teachers who will be involved in assessing pupils
and parents of teenagers facing this uncertainty.
Be with them; help them to cope with stress and to trust in you for their future.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for all who work in our health services, especially those
caring for patients with the Covid-19 virus.
Protect them in their work and give them the strength and resources they need
to cope with the demands of their work.
We remember all who are ill in hospital, nursing homes or at home.
Grant them your strength, healing and peace.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for the promise of eternal life in the place you have prepared for us. We remember with thanksgiving all who have died in faith and who rest in your nearer presence. Brings us with them to the joy and peace of your eternal kingdom.

Merciful father,
accept these our prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.