Friday, April 18, 2008
Friday in the 4th Week of Easter
From Street Directory to Guiding Hands
Readings: Acts 13:26-33; Psalm 2:6-7, 8-9, 10-11ab; John 14:1-6
Picture: CC Mundozeli
I’m thankful for street directories. Especially for those of us who don’t yet have the luxury of GPS, street directories are an invaluable aid for getting to new and unfamiliar places. Even when someone who knows the way volunteers to sit next to me in the car, I usually can’t resist having a peek at the directory before we set out. I prefer to know the way, to have the route mapped out, in advance. All this is fine and good, except when I try to transpose this preference into how I live my life. For isn’t it true that there aren’t really any reliable roadmaps, any detailed directories, for life? In choosing a spouse, for example, can we really say for sure what a particular person will be like ten or twenty years down the road? Do we even have that sort of certainty about ourselves? On the road of life, if we were willing only to make choices on the basis of information that was street-directory-like in accuracy, would we set off from home at all?
Which is why it is perhaps not difficult to understand the conversation that we find in the gospel today. Here we have the beginning of Jesus’ farewell discourse in the gospel of John. And even as Jesus says goodbye to his friends, Thomas indirectly requests a street directory, a sneak preview of the way ahead. We do not know where you are going; how can we know the way? But rather than drawing him a detailed roadmap, Jesus points to himself. I am the way… Instead of giving him the latest edition of the local street directory, Jesus offers himself, the Father’s tender Hand of companionship and guidance on the journey of life.
It’s not easy, of course, to take this Hand. Not if, like me, you prefer the greater clarity and certainty of a street directory. And especially not when we recall where this Hand is headed. Jesus’ farewell discourse is a prelude to the Passion. We’re now in the fourteenth chapter of John’s gospel. In chapter eighteen Jesus will be arrested and tried. Should we be surprised if, like Thomas and the disciples, we too experience some hesitation in accepting this Hand that the Father offers, in following the Way that Jesus both walks and is?
Even so, we see in the first reading what happens when people do, however tentatively, actually accept this guiding Hand. We know, of course, that most of the disciples will falter, and yet the hand of the Lord will continue to uphold them. In the midst of their disappointment and grief, their confusion and shame, the One who was crucified will once more walk among them, urging them onward. And, as Paul professes in the first reading today, the companions then become witnesses. They testify to the reliability of God’s guiding Hand. They proclaim to the world that although this Way leads inevitably through the darkness of death, it also winds ultimately onward into the brilliance of life in its fullness. But to walk this Way, to take this Hand, one needs first to forsake the desire for a directory.
How is the Lord offering us his Hand today?
Posted by Fr Chris at 10:20 am