Fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts 6:1-7; Ps33, 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12
Saint John Baptist de la Salle May 7, 2023
I was recently asked, "What does the Catholic Church know about God?" Surprisingly, the answer is: Not much! Our Church admits this, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas who said, "We can only say that God is. After that, we cannot know what God is, we can only know what God is not." Believing the universe has a purpose, we must also believe the creator is greater than us, making God truer, better, more one, and more beautiful than we are. However, we can't truly understand who God is. Saint Augustine said, "If you can understand it, it is not God."
These thoughts lead to other questions, such as "What am I supposed to do with my life? Do I have a goal, a purpose, am I alone on my life's journey?" We ask these questions hoping we're not alone in the universe. Thomas asked Jesus, "Master, if life is a journey, where are we going and how do we know the way?" Jesus' answer, that he is "the way, the truth, and the life," wasn't enough for Philip. "Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us," Philip says to Jesus.
Jesus' response is the heart of our Christian faith and the answer to all our pressing questions. It is not given to us to know God. Instead, we are to simply do the work of the Father, just as Jesus did. There is so much not given us to know, yet there is so much given us to do. Jesus gives us the answer: “Do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith in God and faith in me, in my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. Otherwise, how could I have told you that I was going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that where I am you also may be.”
A dwelling place for Charles Earl Westbrook, 28 years old, who died just 2 hours into the year 2023 in Columbus, Ohio as the first victim of a mass shooting in 2023. Dwelling places for Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso Guzman, 8 years old; all migrants from Honduras, shot and killed by their neighbor in Texas just last week. Dwelling places for the women who died from complications of childbirth last year at the rate of one death every two minutes. Dwelling places for the 144 residents of Florida who died last year due to Hurricane Ian.
Dwelling places for the thousands who die each year from hunger and drought throughout the world. A dwelling place for Tyre Nichols, beaten to death by police in Memphis, Tennessee. A dwelling place for Kevin Johnson, sentenced to death and executed by the State of Missouri in November of 2022. Dwelling places for the more than 3 women killed every day by their domestic partners. Dwelling places for middle-aged white men, especially those who served in our military, who suffer 70% of suicides in our country.
Dwelling places for the hundreds of thousands lost during the pandemic, and for the medical workers who gave their lives taking care of them. Dwelling places for our family members, friends, and parishioners who have died this year. These dwelling places are the hope of those who believe in Jesus. For we believe that each person's death means a reunion with our God who created them. Hope is how we face death and destruction. Hope unites us across political and religious issues that otherwise tend to divide us. We turn to hope in times of grief and hope we can be worthy of it. For God has prepared a dwelling place for me and you.