Apr 20, 2008

Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter, Year A - Given at Cronulla on April 19-20, 2008

In today’s gospel Jesus makes the declaration that he is the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through Jesus.


My friends, many of us have certainly heard these words of Jesus many times before. We wouldn’t be at church today if these words didn’t have some meaning for us.

On face value, one might think that everyone is going to Heaven, or maybe everyone is going to Hell, except those who have a belief and a relationship with Jesus. But the Gospel message is a little more complicated.


God created humanity in his image and likeness. Hardwired within humanity is a desire for love, order, relationship, peace and ultimately a desire to dwell with God. Life lacks meaning if we fail to respond to this desire for God.

But we look around the world – Not everyone is a Christian. Not everyone is a Catholic. Not everyone is very religious.


What happens to them? Do they go to Heaven?

Well, if it wasn’t for Christ and for his suffering and glorification, no-one would be entering into Heaven. And I mean no-one.

Through the offering of Jesus our Lord and God, our relationship with God has been restored. Because of the great act of Christ, heaven is now open to all of humanity. A place in heaven is given to those who live life, truth and love to fullest.


I often hear people say – my friends are no longer Catholics or even Christians, they don’t come to church, but they are very spiritual good people. They believe they can experience God in nature and that’s enough. Why do they need a church? Why do they need a family? Can’t they keep their faith to themselves? Why pray on Sundays? Why pray at all?


I am sure that most of us know of someone who has walked away from Christ and from regular practice of faith. It is not just young people, but I know of people in their 60s, 70s and even 90s who have abandoned faith and relationship with God. I often feel unhappy when someone gives up on religion and even gives up on God.  Faith is not meant to be lived individually. Faith is lived in relationship and within the context of a community and a society. By having faith, we should want to bring others to faith.


Some people claim that all religions lead us to God and some even say that religion is not necessary provided a human being lives a “good” life. But faith and religious practice requires risk and commitment.  We have to take a leap and trust what Jesus said. We have to believe in eternal life and believe that what we are doing here is what God wants. 


Surprisingly, the founders of some of the other major world religions were not entirely sure as to the way to God. 

The founder of Taoism (604-531 BC), said: ‘Get rid of all desires, you will have a contented life on earth; but I am not sure about the next life.” 

Buddha taught to reach self realization through total detachment and “nirvana”; but he was not sure if that would lead one to God. 

Confucius confessed that he did not know of an eternal life or the way to attain it. 

The founder of Islam, Mohammed, admitted that he had no hope of the future unless Allah puts His mantle of mercy on him. 

But Jesus claims that he is the only way to God, not just for Christians but for everyone. The catch is that his guaranteed way, his iron-clad agreement way to God involves commitment. 

Catholicism is the school of becoming more like God. We come to Mass week after week and we are reminded about how we must focus on God, walk the way of God, believe and how we need to live life to the full. The way of God involves giving – giving of time, our talents and ultimately all that we have so that the Kingdom of God can be spread and can flourish. God simply did not become man to feel better about himself. He came to give us life, to show us the way, the truth and the life.


For this week, I encourage you to take the message of Jesus to those who may not be consistently walking with God. Maybe it is your husband or wife or children, maybe it is a friend or a work colleague, or maybe it is at the bowls club or the pub.


Often people think: I have my religion and they have their understanding. Let’s leave it at that. Whatever the case, our faith gives us direction, it gives us the truth and it gives life and joy, not just in eternal life, but now also.


Statistics show that people who are committed and practicing their religion are considerably more happy and peaceful with life, marriages are more successful, and life doesn’t seem to be as difficult.

Maybe other religions have what it takes, maybe people don’t need any religion at all, but Christianity and living life in Christ in the context of a supporting family is much easier than doing it alone – and according to what Jesus says: eternal life is guaranteed for those who believe and live the life of Christ.


I know that I find happiness, peace and meaning in my life by serving God and his Church. Yes, I would have loved to have been married, but God is calling me to serve his kingdom in a special way. By conforming my life to Christ, I can pour out the love of God to all people I meet. Many people in the world ridicule me, and priests and future-priests for offering our lives as a service to God and to humanity. But I tell you now that life in Christ is fulfilling. I am at peace and I enjoy seeing people become more loving, more peaceful and more with God, not just in death but also in life. But I don’t just live this life for me – I do it because it is the right thing to do.


A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with a few kindergarten kids and they were saying that they wished their dads would sit down, chat to them and what they were ultimately asking for was for their dads to show them some love. I was disappointed to hear that some of the kids wished their dads were more like me.

Don’t leave it to the deacon, the priest or the grandparents to show love to those around us or to give a kind word.

Don’t just be nice when cultural norms require us to. Love and spread that love all the time.


My friends, let us share the message of Christ in our world. Let us take the message to our families, to our workplaces and to our friends and clubs. The message and way of love, truth and life are important. Let us live it with joy.


Let us pray: Jesus, you are the way, you have the truth and you are the source of life. Help each of us to consciously walk your way today. Give us understanding to see the truth and give us courage to live life full of love, peace and joy. Amen


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