On “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

The Way

M. Rev. Ed Jansen and Rev. Dr. Trish Gaffney


Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.

No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6


When Zen master Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case. Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave. When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. “You are wise,” he told them. “You know what is right and what is not right. You may have somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.” A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.


The Zen master in this story is a perfect example of one who understands the Christian faith from the heart, yet he does not profess Jesus Christ as Lord.  He understands love. He understands compassion. He understands forgiveness and he understands grace.


Question:  What if the “I am” statement made in John 14:6 in “coming to the Father through him” is about living the Way? Living the Truth? Living the Life?  Yes, no one comes to God without living the way of Christ. What if it isn’t about making a public profession of one’s Christian faith?  What if it isn’t at all about being Baptized, the Bible, the Sacraments or even going to church?  What if this Zen master “gets” what we don’t?


As Christians, we’re afraid we have too often grabbed onto this statement made by Jesus and used it to exclude others outside of our understanding of the faith.  What if those of us who used it this way were all wrong?  What if it really was about how we live our lives? How we live the life of Christ with love, compassion, forgiveness and grace….for others.  What if what it really means is to stand with those who are suffering and in need, confident in the Way, regardless of cost?


What if “coming to Father” is about living our lives dedicated to serving others, sacrificially?  Preferring others over our own needs…our own desires?  Loving those who are most difficult to love?  What if Jesus would rather have us live like him than claim we “know and follow him”?  (Matthew 7:21-23)  What if Jesus meant it’s an “inside job” and has nothing to do with all our external trappings?


But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7)



M.Rev. Ed Jansen is the Bishop of the Diocese of St. Benedict and Rev. Dr. Trish Gaffney is its Vicar General


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