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Jesus said to his disciples, ‘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.’
Thomas said: ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’
We encounter Thomas three times in the gospel narrative. He is the one who urges others to step into physical danger as Jesus insists upon returning to dangerous territory. He is the one who, after the resurrection, would not believe until he knew that he and his fellow disciples were not being deceived. And, in today’s reading, he is the one who puts into words the thoughts of others: Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? In response to Thomas’ question Jesus provides the answer that should fill our hearts with joy and hope: I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
Jesus gave Thomas, and us, a simple statement of fact. Those three words … way, truth, life … summarise everything about the life of the faithful disciple. If we want to get closer to God, Jesus shows us the way. If we want to know how to live our lives as we journey towards an eternity in God’s nearer presence, Jesus gives us the truth. If we remain faithful in our following of the way and the truth we will reach the ultimate destination at which we will come to know the inexpressible joy of eternal life.
Sadly, the journey of faith is not simple. As demonstrated by the gospel account of Thomas’ interaction with Jesus, we will want to ask questions, we will have to face challenging moments of confusion and threat, and we will have to learn to put self to one side. As Jesus offers his response to Thomas, he presents us with the itinerary for our earthly pilgrimage: faith, prayer, engagement with scripture and a willingness to not only ask questions, but also listen to and believe the answers.
Jesus wants us to be ready to take our place in the dwellings he has prepared for us in his Father’s house. The places are ready and waiting for us, but we need to take our journey to that ultimate destination seriously. We have to avoid journeying in our own wisdom and trust in the wisdom of Jesus. Instead of relying on the answers we concoct for ourselves, we have to hear the words of Christ, and then trust and act on those words … they really do provide us with the only route to an eternity in God’s wonderful Kingdom.