Blue Mountains Franciscan Church, sermon preached by Br. Simeon at Springwood on Sunday 14th May 2017:
FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER YR. A
Gospel: John 14:1-12
“Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater than these”
A Jewish man moves into a Catholic neighbourhood. Every Friday The Catholics are driven crazy because, while they’re eating fish, the Jew is outside barbecuing steaks. So the Catholics work on the Jew to convert him to Catholicism. Finally, after many threats and much pleading, the Catholics succeed. They take the Jew to a priest who sprinkles holy water on the Jew and says, “Born a Jew, Raised a Jew, Now a Catholic.” The Catholics are ecstatic. No more delicious, but maddening smells every Friday evening. But the next Friday evening, the scent of barbecue wafts through the neighbourhood. The Catholics all rush to the Jew’s house to remind him of his new diet. They see him standing over the cooking steak. He is sprinkling water on the meat and saying, “Born a cow, Raised a cow, Now a fish.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
I am fascinated by the discourse of Jesus in the Upper Room. There are truths here that simply stagger the imagination. Surely this is one of the greatest revelations ever to fall from the lips of Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew records that, early in his ministry, our Lord said, “I have come that I might utter things that have been kept secret since the foundation of the world.” Surely some of these truths are found here
In the Upper Room Discourse.
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? — Jn 14:2
Today’s Gospel takes place at the Last Supper. John’s account of that night is the longest in the Gospels – five chapters in length (but with no account of the institution of the Eucharist). The evangelist uses a literary device common in Scripture: A leader (Moses, Joshua, David, Tobit) gathers his own (family, friends, disciples) to announce his imminent departure, offer advice and insight into the future and give final instructions.
At the time of the writing the Fourth Gospel, Christians are being harassed by both the Jews and the Romans. Proclaiming the Crucified Jesus as the Messiah is blasphemy to Judaism, while accusing the Romans of “judicial murder” in the death of Jesus threatens the new faith’s chances of survival as a “lawful religion” tolerated by their Roman occupiers.
The dominant themes here are consolation and encouragement: Be faithful, remember and live what I have taught you, for better days are ahead for you. Christ – the Way to God, the Truth of God and Life incarnate of God – will return for the faithful who “who do the works that I do.”
The Jesus of the Gospel does not only show us the way – his life of humble and generous servanthood is the way; he not just philosophises about a concept of truth – he is the perfect revelation of the truth about a God of enduring and unlimited love for his people; he is not just a preacher of futuristic promises – he has been raised up by God to a state of existence in God to which he invites all of us. In embracing the Spirit of his Gospel and living the hope of his Word, we encounter, in Christ, God himself.
Regardless of the career path we choose – doctor, labourer, bank teller, teacher, parent or priest – if we truly consider ourselves disciples of the Risen Jesus, we are called “to do the work I do.” In our homes, workplaces, city halls and playgrounds, we are called to bring the miracle of Easter life: the reconciliation, justice and peace of the Risen One in whom God has revealed himself to all of humanity.
Seldom do we think of death as a return home, but today’s Gospel image of the “house with many dwelling places” helps us to realise that we were created for a life beyond this one – we were created by God for life in and with him.
As Christians, we live in the eternal hope of one day living in God’s dwelling place but that “place” of hope and compassion and peace exists here and now in the places we create where the poor and sick are cared for, the fallen are lifted up, and lost and
and rejected are sought after and brought home.