I woke this morning from a dream of being lost. In it, I found myself suddenly alone in a strange place with no purse or phone, with no one to ask for help. It is a dream I have had before. I struggled to wake up, to get going on the day and fill my mind with other things.
Whether it was coincidence or by design I do not know, but after that dream, the Gospel for today stood out like it was written just for me. Jesus said “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. […] I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14: 1, 6)
I am the way….
It’s a common enough situation, I’m sure: to stare into the future and feel everything known fall away; to long to know the best path forward; to want a map but to have none. When I was young, I prayed earnestly that the Lord would tell me exactly what to do, so I could simply obey each step of the way and end up in a good place. But faith requires something different. That we set our sights on eternity, anchored in his merciful love, and trust him to carry us to himself through the dark and over shaky ground.
I am the way, the truth, and the life. He is the goal (that truth and life we seek) and at the same time he is the way. What does that mean? What is the way, and what does it mean that Jesus is that way?
Jesus is THE WAY
In the Old Testament, the way is made up of the life choices of those who follow God and his law. For example:
- The psalmist contrasts the way of the righteous, which leads to blessing, with the way of the wicked, which perishes (see Psalm 1). He also asks the Lord to lead him “in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:24).
- Jeremiah advised a people who had turned away from the Lord to “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). It’s not just a set of rules, it’s a way of life that provides rest and peace.
- The children of Israel found, as we often do, that following is easier intended than done. But Isaiah foretold a time of blessing when “… your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,'” (Isaiah 30:21). Directions, in person!
JESUS is the way
I wonder if anyone was thinking that when they heard John the Baptist, years later: “Prepare the way of the Lord!”
Undoubtedly, John wanted people to clear a way into their lives and hearts for the Lord who was coming to them (see Matthew 3:3). But Jesus also exemplified, in his life, the steps to take along the way everlasting. We walk in that way as we follow his example: as we do the things he did, love and pray the way he did, take up our crosses the way he did. But there is something new about this way, in Christ. He is the way in the sense that when we are baptized into his life, and when we live in him and he in us (“abide in me” is how he says it in John 15, like a branch abides in a vine) — when we have that intimate symbiotic relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit speaks into our hearts. He guides and counsels us along the way and gives us the strength and courage and peace we need to do the walking.
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” St. Paul wrote to the Galatians. I can trust him to guide me. “And the life I now live in the flesh,” he continued, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
When I find myself lost in life as I did in that dream, I take great comfort in Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life. It is in him and by keeping my eyes on him that I find peace and the ability to move forward when everything is dark around me.
In the words of the Surrender Novena of Servant of God Don Dolindo Ruotolo — O Jesus, I surrender myself to you; take care of everything!
© 2020 Sarah Christmyer