A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to St. John:

Pantocrator Icon, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him, “Master, 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 except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever 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 is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

I am the WAY and the TRUTH and the LIFE

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Transcription of Sermon

Every religion made by man, whether it’s the new form of Judaism, or Islam, or some pagan religion, or Protestantism, whatever it may be, is composed of three parts: There’s a creed, in other words, the beliefs – that which they hold to be true. There’s a code, which is the moral law, like we would have the Commandments, for example. And there’s cult, which is ritual. Every religion has that, even the false religions. The difference is that Christ Himself calls Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And why does He say each one of these three important aspects?

Well, man is made up of a body and a soul, and the soul, just as the body has five senses, the soul has several faculties, one of which is called the intellect. And the intellect is a faculty that is ordered towards the truth. Each one of us is ordered towards the truth in our mind. Our will, another spiritual faculty, is ordered towards the good. We have the intellect to enlighten the will, because the will is blind, just as our passions are blind, to enlighten the will so as to choose what is good – what we know to be true. This is important on to understand what our Lord is saying, and I’ll get to them in a little while.

When Our Lord calls Himself the Truth, He’s not saying that the truth is something we simply recognize, it’s not something we agree upon, it’s not something we invent. When our Lord calls Himself the Truth, He’s saying He is the Truth. He is the Truth. He is not merely something we believe, He’s a person. If Christ had only said I am the Truth but didn’t say I am the Way and the Life, if he just said I am the Truth, then our faith, our religion, would be just something about ideas, and we would end up becoming Gnostics. But He is more than that. He calls Himself more than that. He is not only the Truth, He is also the Way.

The Way, then, corresponds to the code, to the moral law, what we are to follow, the path we are to follow when we’ve accepted Christ as the Truth. And so, this then is going to involve our wills in making our choices, enlightened by faith, strengthened by grace, in order to choose the good that Christ has revealed to us; the Commandments, the Beatitudes, all of His precepts, and those things that the Church teaches us. And so, notice, if Our Lord had only said I am the Way and He didn’t say I’m the Truth, then we would become kind of Pelagians, we would just through action, save ourselves, or Puritans. But the Lord is more than that, He’s also the Truth. He’s not only the Truth and the Way, He is also the Life.

The Baptism, Pietro Longhi, 1755

And notice, again, He identifies Himself with that. He is the Life and He becomes the life of our soul. And this happened in the moment of our baptism, when the blessing Trinity was poured into our soul, and made of us living tabernacles, just as we genuflect in front of the tabernacle here because Christ is truly present, when we were baptized the blessed Trinity came to dwell within us, making of us temples of the Holy Spirit, living tabernacles. There is no greater gift than to possess the Life of Grace. There is no greater loss than to commit a sin and lose it. But our Lord, in His patience and His mercy, awaits us in Confession to forgive us and bring us back to the Life of Grace. Notice too, that if He had said I am the Life but didn’t say I am the Truth, and I am the Way, then we would have just some frenetic existence without direction. We wouldn’t know what was true. We wouldn’t know it was good. But when our Lord calls himself the Life, this life is something that makes us live. He is the Life that gives us life.

In the moment of baptism, we become living beings in a supernatural way. When we were conceived, when we were born, we were outside of grace. We weren’t adequate. We weren’t prepared to live in heaven. Our human nature is not adequate for heaven, we need supernatural help from outside. And that’s what grace does for us; it prepares us to live in heaven. So, our Lord not only invades our souls in the moment of our baptism, but He also nourishes us with Himself in the Eucharist, so that our cult, our ritual, is true worship. It’s not something man-made, it is divine, and Christ is the one who not only makes it possible, He is the worship. And so, when we receive Christ in the Eucharist, we’re strengthened to recognize the truth, our faith is deepened. We’re also strengthened to live the life, the moral code, the law that He laid down, all of His precepts, we’re strengthened for that because our Lord comes to us in grace, but He also gives us an increase of what are called the Theological Virtues.

The Theological Virtues, faith, hope, and charity, correspond to different faculties of our soul. When our Lord gives us faith, He enlightened our intellect to recognize the truth. That’s called the Light of Faith, and it’s only with that Light of Faith that we can recognize the truth and accept it. He comes to us with the gift of hope, theological virtue of hope, which is anchored in a past promise of heaven that He made and a future fulfillment of it, and we’re somewhere in between this promise and its fulfillment. And so, we live on hope, and it is hope, precisely, that helps us to live the moral law, the law of Christ, because we know that it’s leading towards heaven. And our Lord has called Himself love itself. You see that in John’s Letter, God is love, God is charity. And so, charity Himself, the Sacrament of Love itself, the Eucharist, comes into our hearts and makes of us these living tabernacles.

The Good Shepherd, Dyce WIlliam, 19th c.

So, unlike the false religions made by man that have their own invented truth, their own invented way, their own invented life, Christ Himself is the Way, He’s the Truth, and He’s the Life and He’s the One, and the only one, who can save us.

In the Name of the Father, and the Son, the Holy Ghost, Amen


— Fr. Ermatinger