Acts 6:1-7
1 Peter 2:4-9
John 14:1-12


Marshall McLuhan, commentator on means of communication, once wrote: ‘We drive into the future looking through the rear-vision mirror.’ The Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, once said: ‘We live forward, but we understand backwards.’ So, on Sundays and at other times, we go backwards to the life of Jesus, so that for now and for the future, we might become better people, his kind of people.

Today we find ourselves tuning in to the start of the conversation between Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper. But before we do that, I would like to start with something sad and disturbing that is happening in Australia, in order to highlight the need to belong and to feel at home, which Jesus emphasises so strongly today.

On the edge of Melbourne’s suburbs, the bodies of more than one hundred ‘street kids’ lie under mounds of red earth at the Bulla cemetery. Only one young person has been identified by a gravestone and a name. Nothing marks the graves of the others, not even a simple cross. The only other signs there warn of snakes and rabbit burrows in a stretch of dry, cracked earth.

The Herald-Sun newspaper has described this place as ‘Melbourne’s saddest cemetery’. For whatever reason, those buried there, homeless in death, were also homeless in life. They were found dead in dark alleys and ‘squats’, unnamed and unclaimed by any relative or friend. For them ‘home’ was never home at all. It was about broken homes, about relationships deprived, denied, or abused. We can at least trust, as Jesus has asked us to do, that they have finally found a home with the risen Lord in his Father’s house, where there are more than enough rooms to go around.

All of us need to belong and feel at home. All of us long for a haven of peace and rest, a kind of oasis where we can recover from the storms of life. Jesus was aware of this human longing, and found it himself in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, his friends at Bethany. He tells his followers, ourselves included, that he is going to prepare for them a home for the end of their journeys of life.

He says too that no paper map is needed to get there. For he himself is the way, the way to the destination, which is the company of God forever.

Not only is Jesus the way to living with God, he is also the truth about God. For he himself is God embodied in a human being, the flesh and blood mirror of God, the human expression of God, the human face of God, God’s body-language.

He is also the life of God. By his being present to us, and our being present to him, we live in God and God lives in us. Though he is no longer with us on earth as a physical person, whom we can look at, listen to, and speak to face- to-face, he is always with us just the same, always with us as our way, truth, and life. ‘Believe in me,’ he says. ‘Trust me,’ he says.

Not to do so is risky. For out there in our complex and difficult world, it is just too easy to become puzzled, confused, and distracted, about the ultimate meaning of life and about our final destiny, and just too easy to get lost, in all our searching and exploring of the meaning and purpose of life.

So today, wherever we are, let us acknowledge Jesus Christ as our way, our truth, and our life, and let us re-commit ourselves to being with him in life and in death. And today too, let us ask him to help us recognise his face in the faces of fellow human beings, lost and broken, and to do all we can to wipe away their tears and comfort them in their distress, brokenness, and bewilderment. Many asylum seekers languishing in cruel and hard-hearted situations come to mind immediately.

By continuing the work of Jesus on earth – seeing his face in the distraught or disfigured faces of fellow human beings, and relieving his sufferings in those whose lives are wracked with physical, mental, or emotional pain – we will keep up with Jesus, as we journey with him along the road that leads to God.

This road, his road home, leads to peace, a fulfilling and satisfying peace, a peace that is unavailable in any other way!


Brian Gleeson is a Passionist priest, and a member of the Passionist community in Endeavour Hills, Melbourne.