Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God still, and trust in me.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house;
if there were not, I should have told you.
I am going now to prepare a place for you,
and after I have gone and prepared you a place,
I shall return to take you with me;
so that where I am
you may be too.
You know the way to the place where I am going.’
Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus said:
‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.
If you know me, you know my Father too.
From this moment you know him and have seen him.’
Philip said, ‘Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’ ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip,’ said Jesus to him ‘and you still do not know me?
‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father,
so how can you say, “Let us see the Father”?
Do you not believe
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself:
it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work.
You must believe me when I say
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;
believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever believes in me
will perform the same works as I do myself,
he will perform even greater works,
because I am going to the Father.’
The Gospel this Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Easter, reminds us that the Lord restored to the disciples in the first days of the Resurrection, would be ‘taken from them’ again in the Ascension.
The separation is separation of a kind, but it is also true, as the disciples would learn, they would be at one with him, not only at the end of time, or their time here – when they would be at one in heaven. The disciples remain at one with the Lord, when gathered with the Church, even with two or three gathered in his name; and drawn into communion by his real presence in the sacrament of Scripture proclaimed in the assembly; in the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist, and in the ministry of the priest, sharing grace in Sacrament and pastoral care.
All this is offered. And yet we can be blind to that real presence of Jesus, cloaked as it is in ritual and symbol and the scandal of particularity; as blind as the disciples were to Jesus’ making the Father visible in the sacrament of himself.
Eventually, Thomas got it! Please God, we will too.
Stained glass. Kings Lynn Minister. (c) 2016, Allen Morris