Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. -John 14:5
Once in Rome, my wife and I were trying to find a particular landmark. We stopped and in our best broken Italian, asked a local which way to go. With great enthusiasm and many hand gestures he gave us a long string of directions to follow. We thanked him with a Grazie mille! (A thousand thanks) and continued on our way. Once we were out of earshot, I asked my wife how much of that she had understood. She replied, “I got the first part, keep going straight. Then he lost me!”
In today’s gospel Thomas is confused and asks Jesus for directions. Jesus says, it is simple: “I AM the way.” His direct answer is both heartening, and at times, difficult to understand. But Jesus asks us as he did His first disciples, “Follow me.”
How many of us start along the path towards the Father and then find ourselves distracted or discouraged, drawn this way and that, turned around and casting about, looking for the way? We may follow one of the paths the world offers: riches or fame, overstimulation or languor, wondering why we are still dissatisfied. And yet, Jesus is always before us, beckoning us onward, saying, “I am the way, follow me.” Unlike our Italian friend in the story above, Jesus doesn’t give us a series of complicated directions then send us on our way to fend for ourselves. No, He accompanies us every step of the way. As He teaches in Matthew 28:20: “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” We just need to pause and center ourselves, then turn once again to Him.
To finish off the story I began with, my wife and I realized we could go forward until we were lost again, then ask another person for directions. So it is on the path to the Father. We can (and should!) ask daily, if not minute by minute, “What is the way, Lord?” Jesus never tires of revealing to us, “I am the way. Follow me.”
Talib Huff is a retired teacher and a member of the retreat team at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center in Citrus Heights, California. You can contact him at [email protected].