May 2020


5th Sunday of Easter, May 10, 2020 ~ Mother’s Day
John 14:1-14

– The Reverend Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas –

Have you ever been in a situation where the person who was speaking to you assumed you knew what he or she was talking about when, in fact, you hadn’t a clue?

I admit, as a college student, there were times when I entered a classroom unprepared, not having read the assignment, and praying that the professor would not call on me. On such occasions, my strategy was not to avoid being noticed, but rather to listen carefully to the lecture so as to gain enough knowledge to ask a question of the professor before a question from the professor was asked of me; not the sort of question that clearly indicated I knew nothing of what was said, but rather the kind of inquiry that would elicit from the professor the response, “That’s a great question.”

Fortunately, the disciples to which Jesus spoke at his last supper were more forthcoming of their ignorance than I. They were with Jesus throughout his ministry and, more than anyone else, should have known him as students well versed in the knowledge and life of their teacher. But when Jesus spoke of the heavenly home to which he was going and preparing for them, Thomas was clueless confessing, “We don’t know where you’re going.” (John 14:5)

Furthermore, when Jesus spoke of himself in God’s likeness, and assumed his disciples knew what he meant, Philip admitted he hadn’t a clue. “Show us the Father, and we will be satisfied,” he said. (John 14:8)

The replies of both Thomas and Philip conveyed to Jesus that after all his time with them, they still were clueless of what he was about. Do you feel the same, looking for a way more compelling than Christ, who says he is the way; seeking a presence of God more powerful and convincing than Christ, who says that he’s the real deal?

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also.” (John 14:6-7a)

On this Sunday of Mother’s Day, we Christians could benefit from more maternal likenesses of God as powerful protector, nurturing caregiver, and birth mother of all existence; yet we must also concede that the age-old concept of God as Father is a graven image chiseled from a time when the father was perceived as lord of the manor, the state and all creation to whom we ran for protection.

Still, Jesus remained true to his unsettling and role-reversing gospel that you who run to God for protection are the same to whom God runs for shelter, empowering you in all times of uncertainty, including now, to follow the way of your Teacher and Shepherd who is persecuted for righteousness’ sake with the certainty that yours is the household of God for whom a place has been lovingly prepared.

Both then and now, Jesus asks the rhetorical question, “Who is my mother, and who are my siblings?” (Matthew 12:48) Both then and now his answer remains the same: whoever does the will of God “is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:50) Amen