One of the fundamental claims of Christianity is that Jesus is the way to God. It is a truth the contemporary pluralistic society objects with passion. This makes it difficult sometimes to propose a single way. Many modern people do not usually believe that there is only one way, thanks to the democratic culture. They believe there are many possibilities and many short cuts. Despite this trait of our modern culture, Christianity preaches that Jesus is the only way to God. Whatever this means in practical terms is left for each context to sort out. The principle remains true: “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
If one finds this difficult to assimilate, he or she has to reckon with this other similar statement of Jesus. “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The readings of today highlight this uniqueness of Jesus, as the Church celebrates today the Good Shepherd Sunday.
Jesus is the Way
In the day’s Gospel, Jesus makes it abundantly clear: “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16). Jesus is the one Shepherd of the flock. Every other leader or guide bows down to him. One recalls the incident in John 6 when Jesus asked his twelve disciples if they wanted to join others who were leaving his company. Peter, answering on behalf of the twelve said: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). The whole Christian movement is based on the understanding that Jesus is the only way, being the only mediator between God and humanity and the only one to lead and unite all humanity and all creation to God.
Jesus is Our Foundation
If some people or systems of thought or belief do not accept this truth, they are like the local Jewish leaders whom the Apostle Peter admonishes in the First reading of today from Acts 4. The Apostle says of Jesus: “He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.’ There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved” (Acts 4:11-12). By calling Jesus the cornerstone rejected by the builders, Peter is quoting directly from Psalm 118:22 where the Psalmist thanks God for lifting him up from humiliation to glory. It is taken as a prophesy pointing to the Messiah who would be rejected, humiliated but later exalted.
The building imagery is very powerful. The cornerstone is the foundational structure holding any building. The larger the building, the more solid is the cornerstone supposed to be. A building without a solid cornerstone easily collapses. In the case of Jesus, the builders rejected him as the foundation stone, but through God’s working, he is now the very foundation stone holding the whole house. So, whether the Jewish hearers accept him or not, he remains the very anchor of their whole belief system.
Jesus is Our Hope
In the same way, Jesus remains the only hope of contemporary humanity whether his message is accepted or not. This imposes extra responsibility on all Christians and preachers of the Christian message. Jesus is the only hope for unity and peace in the world while the average Christian remains the instrument of this peace and unity. The whole teaching of Jesus on love of God and love of fellow human beings remains the solid foundation on which integral human development can be built. All systems of development and international relations that remove the love of God and love of humanity from the picture easily end up not only creating more problems for humanity but also menacing and destroying humanity.