thinking theology

I am constantly amazed at how much of my theology has been shaped by my family. My mum and dad were very spiritual people, seeing the holy in everything. My mum especially in people and my dad in the world around him. Even in their elder years, they would look at life with wonder and joy. Today, on mother’s day I want to tell you a story about my mum. One thanksgiving when we all shared a home, all my adult children said they wouldn’t be coming home for the family feast, so mum and I planned a special treat for the four of us. As the day wore on, each child called to say actually they would  come home, and …..that they were bringing multiple friends with them. Instead of feeling cranky, which I must admit was my disposition at the time, mum whirled into her role as creator of abundance and sent my father and I off on impossible missions for food when everything seemed to be closed. At the end of the day, we had a remarkable feast. My mum had her grandchildren and lots of others to entertain.

When I hear the passage read, “In our Fathers house are many rooms”, I think of mum who brought us up to believe that there was always room for one more at the table, one more child to love, one more friendship to make. It was not even a stretch for me to expect that everyone would find what they needed in our home. So it was likely that God’s house would be equally welcoming and satisfying for everyone.

Thinking about the later part of today’s gospel, we hear Jesus saying, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” First, I must first caution you about Greek. In Greek, there is no definite article so this passage could be translated as the way or a way. History shows how we have limited the discussion. I think it is unfortunate because I think it can be read both ways with authenticity.

To read it as a way, a truth, a life, is to accept that God is not limited by the human constructs of religion. Rather the life that God has given is for all. The way may vary in cultural terms, but it is always a way of compassion, in every religion. It is always the deep mystery that truth is a precious gem to be glimpsed but not seen in its entirety.

When we use the definite article, I think we are talking about those of us who are called to follow Jesus in particular; to meditate upon his teaching, to practice forgiveness and reconciliation, to be generous and hospitable to all. We find life in service, in shared joy and in communal struggle. We also testify that we have seen death, we have experienced loss, and fear, and doubt, and we have come to the other side of the lake with Jesus. We live the resurrection in our bones, in our hearts and in our souls. Resurrection is embodied in how we live our lives, by our compassion, and in our hope. Indeed, this is the only way for us, for those who love Jesus and hear his voice in the wind, and see his face in others’ lives. The truth is not a doctrine, but the truth of relationship. And life is.

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