Are you familiar with Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story”? This musical adaptation of the familiar Romeo and Juliet story includes a duet entitled “There’s a Place for Us!” Tony and Maria sing of their longing for a peaceful place where they can live out their lives and their love together.
Another familiar song is “Home, Sweet Home” tells us that there is no place like home. Home is the place where we feel comfortable and feel like we belong.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that he is going to prepare a place for us. Then he will return and take us to that special place that is reserved just for us. It is a place of refreshment and peace, a place where tears have been banished, sorrow is non-existent, and pain and frustration are long forgotten. How we all long for such a place. Most of us spend our lives looking for such a place forgetting that it has already been prepared for us. All we need do is to acknowledge Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Notice that Jesus does not say that he is “a Way.” No, he is definite; Jesus is “the Way.” While the world might want us to believe that there are many ways to find our place of peace and refreshment, Jesus teaches us that He is the only Way. What is more, He has gone that Way himself. He has lived out his life for others. He has obeyed the will of His Father and has willingly provided us with an example that is the Way to our place in heaven. To make sure that we understand, he tells us that He is also the Truth. In other words, the Way He has gone is authentic. Finally he tells us that He is the Life. In other words, finding our way to our place in heaven is not a matter of simply resting after a long and vigorous life. When we find our place in heaven, it will be a place of Life, abundant and vibrant. While some may refer to life after death as “eternal rest,” Jesus has not promised us an eternity of rest. Rather he has promised us eternal life.
In order to keep us on the Way to eternal life, Jesus provides us with a foretaste of heaven in the Eucharist. At this table we experience a little bit of what heaven will be like. Like Tony and Maria in “West Side Story,” who were looking for a place where they could love one another, Jesus is preparing us a place where we will be loved and will love in return. The Eucharist is our promise of Love, for Jesus’ presence among us is the sure sign of God’s Love. We approach the Table of the Lord in love, peace and joy with an expectation of finding the place that Jesus has prepared for us.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator