Choosing the Way

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“And you know the way 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, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.”

John 14: 4-6

Jesus tells the disciples today that they know the way to where he is going. And, of course, they do; for he has made very clear that the way by which he will leave them and go to the Father is through his suffering and death. TheWay is the way of obedience to death, of living out to the end the purpose for which he has been sent. Perhaps in part in denial of this unpleasant truth but also legitimately seeking how the way will apply to himself and the other disciples, Thomas asks how they can know the way. Jesus repeats the hard truth that He is the way, the truth, and the life. To go where he is going is to live His truth, the truth of being crucified with Him that His life may be realized in us.

At moments in life we realize that the Way is really very simple, even though it is not easy. The problem in life is not that we don’t know the Way; it’s that we choose not to live it. Dying to our own way is not a pleasant prospect. More often than not, we know what the Way is asking of us. In a world of tremendous poverty and inequality, we know that to have and use more than we need is not the Way. In a society of envy, competition, and violence, we know that asserting our own power over others is not the Way. In a culture of distraction and dissipation, we know that our evasion of silence and solitude is not the Way.

Conversely, we can be sure that today we shall be offered opportunities to choose not to claim or purchase more than we need and to conserve the earth’s resources in some small way. At some point today, we know that there will be the possibility to pass over to the words and needs of another when we feel their appeal as an imposition on our time and work. Certainly today moments of potential silence and solitude will present themselves, when our impulse will be to turn on the television or go to the computer screen.

Of course, all of this hardly seems to qualify as the Way of Jesus’ passion and death. Yet, to choose the better way in the ordinary moments of our day may be the Way to the dying to self that allows Jesus’ life to come alive in us. At every moment of life the Way is always available to us. Relationships can be restored and deepened, religious life can be renewed and revitalized, life to the full can be experienced and realized. It is all a matter of will. “You know the Way where I am going.” It is said that ignorance is “the passion to ignore.” We are ignorant of the Way, not because we don’t know it but because we choose to ignore it. May we receive the grace today to choose the Way when the choice is presented to us.

But if the Son has offered you to the Father together with himself and his death, then you are embraced in love. This love has been given you as a pledge with which you have been purchased for the service of God and as a security with which you have been made an heir in God’s kingdom. God cannot go back on his pledge, for it is all that God himself is and is capable of. See, this pledge and security is the Holy Spirit, who is the dowry or treasure with which Jesus your Bridegroom has made you an heir in his Father’s kingdom.

Take great care, then, to hold fast to your pledge and your dowry in a unity of love with Jesus, your beloved Bridegroom, for in the unity of love are constantly born anew all who live honorably for God and serve him. There are three groups in which the entire family of those who serve God is included. The first group consists of virtuous persons of good will who are always overcoming sin and dying to it. The second group is made up of interior persons, rich and full of life, who practice all the virtues to a high degree of perfection. The third group consists of exalted, enlightened persons who are always dying in love and coming to nought in unity with God. These are the three states or orders in which all the ways of holiness are practiced. When all three coalesce in one and the same person, then (s)he is living according to God’s most holy will.

Jan van Ruusbroec, A Mirror of Eternal Blessedness, Introduction

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