This is a blog that I post to several times a week although not necessarily daily. These reflections are triggered by the scripture found in the lectionary used by many Christian denominations. While I am part of the Catholic tradition, these posts are not --or rarely--sectarian. I try to put myself in the space of a of Jesus Christ and listen to words that come to me as I read and pray the scriptures. Each post also includes a photograph. These rarely have any connection to the content of the post but are simply pleasing images that I capture as I make my pilgrimage through life.

Friday, April 26, 2013

"I am the Way, the Truth, the Life."

Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6
These words of Jesus are at the beginning of his final discourse with the apostles as he is about to be betrayed, condemned, and executed.  I have heard them many times and typically understood them to describe the essential requirement of being a Christian in order to enter the reign of eternal life, i.e., heaven.  There is another way of understanding them that I now see is much closer to what Jesus intended and more in line with a 21st century world view that extends well beyond our immediate geographic and social environs.

It is helpful to me to use a simple but profound distinction between orthodoxy and orthopraxis.  These are theological terms from the Greek with relatively simple meanings.  The first, orthodoxy, is the more familiar to us and means "right teaching or thinking."  We are orthodox if our beliefs accord with the standards set by, in this case, the Christian church.  The second, orthopraxis, means "right practice or behavior."  Jesus himself is the source of this distinction.   “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’(orthodoxy) will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father (orthopraxis) who is in heaven." Matthew 7:21  His emphasis throughout his ministry was not on sectarian practice or theology but on behaviors that evidenced the Spirit of the Divine One living in and through people.

These words of Jesus refer to the kind of life one lives, not the religion to which one is an adherent.  No matter what we say our religious beliefs are, there is only one way to the Father:  living a life of solidarity and service to all all brothers and sisters and indeed to all creation.  Or as Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you."  It would be easier if he had said, "Profess what I have taught you."  He didn't, however.  He did say, "Live the life that I have lived even to laying down your life for others."  That is why Jesus is the way, the light, the truth.

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