The Sunday Project
Trying is What Matters
Fifth Sunday of Easter |
By Pedro Nogues
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Proch'orus, and Nica'nor, and Ti'mon, and Par'menas, and Nicola'us, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame." To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, "The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner," and "A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall"; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
"Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, 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; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.
I do not know if it is any consolation to verify in the first reading that in the Church, from its beginnings, there were divisions and confrontations. Jews against Greeks, those of Peter against those of Pablos; today however, conservatives against liberals could be a description of our beloved Church. Therefore, our work is to focus on what unites us more than what divides us. If we focus on what divides us and separates us from the other, we are incapacitated from the essence of the evangelical message that is love. And essentially what unites us is Jesus. He has prepared many rooms, in which people of all origins, tendencies and beliefs fit, with the only condition that they believe in him.
"Do not worry. Believe in God and believe in me too.” This is the message that Jesus wants to give you today. Today many of us live in situations of uncertainty, fear, anxiety. The disciples' concerns echo in our hearts "we don't know where you are going." "How are we going to know the way?" "Show us the Father and that is enough for us." The confinement, the fear of being infected, the pain of the loss of someone loved, the uncertainty of work and the economic future are things that we can all be living now. So the words of Jesus in today's Gospel are updated especially for us. Putting our trust in him should be able to help us navigate these uncertain times.
"I'm the way, the truth and the life." Especially now we have to turn to see Jesus. He, who is the rock that the builders rejected, knows perfectly well the feeling of being rejected for being faithful to his mission and his essence. We as the LGBT+ flock of the Church are that stone, which has been rejected many times, but we are truly essential for the construction of the Church according to the plan and the Heart of Jesus. In his eyes we are that rock "precious to God who chose it." We are here because He called us and He chose us. The fact that we may have struggled to remain faithful and close to Jesus, yet do our best to follow Him, is invaluable and does good to the Church, which many times is not even capable of seeing us. Each of us with our poor and perhaps imperfect following of Jesus are building the Church and helping her in her saving mission. It is better to follow Jesus imperfectly than not to follow Him at all.
The world in general is not an easy or friendly place to live in these days, and for many of us in the LGBT+ community who want to be true and faithful to who we are, it is even more difficult for us to hold our heads up high and keep moving forward every day. When life costs you, when keeping pace becomes exhausting, look up and look at Him. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Not in a metaphorical and distant way from two thousand years ago. But in a vital, existential, close, and personal way. He speaks to you and extends his hand, and when taken – along with his Blessed Mother – you can overcome all the obstacles the world presents to you. You are not alone.