This question of salvation came up in Mass last Friday, when the Gospel (John 14:1-6) was about knowing the way to heaven. Jesus said, "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 is concerned saying, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus then responds, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." He tells us that He is the Way. If we know Jesus, then we know the Way to Heaven.
So what does it mean to know Jesus, the Way? How can we get to know Him? We come to know our friends by spending time with them. We learn things about them and pick up their habits and ways, sometimes even adopting their way of thinking. The more we spend time with someone, the more we show our love for them, and the more we are in tune with their ideals and values.
Jesus wants us to spend time with Him. He loves us; after all he said: “I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” What a beautiful poetic way to say I love you. Isn’t that how it works in our relationships? When we fall in love with our future spouse, all we want to do is be with him. Sometimes, when we are struggling in our relationships we become upset, saying things like, “You never want to spend time with me any more!” It hurts, doesn’t it, when someone doesn’t want to be near you. If feels like she doesn’t love you any more.
Spending time with Jesus is the only way to get to know him. It is the only way to begin to understand the Way. We spend time with Him in Scripture, understanding his daily life, studying His teachings, and learning to mimic how He loved others. We are with Him in prayer, offering up our struggles, thanking Him and learning a way of gratitude, expressing sorrow for our failings, and listening for His voice so that we can spread His Good News to others. We go to him in Mass, worshiping Him and partaking of the Eucharist that bonds us to Him so that we may have the grace to be like Him. We spend time with him in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, being still in his presence and asking Him to fill us with His Spirit and grace. (Imagine an old married couple sitting on a porch, two lovers, whose only wish is to be with each other in silence, having perfect joy to be in the presence of one another.) Jesus gives so freely of Himself; we need to accept Him and give of ourselves in return.
This takes time, of course, and patience, and sacrifice. After all, what loving relationship doesn’t take sacrifice? Sometimes, even when we don’t want to spend time with Jesus, we must anyway. It won’t always feel wonderful. (I can certainly name a few times when I was in a grumpy mood and didn’t want to spend time watching a war movie with my husband, but I did it anyway out of love for him; it made our relationship only stronger.) But the more time we spend with Jesus, the more we will crave being with him, and the more we will begin to understand the Way.
Do we know the way to Heaven? Take a serious, close look at your life. If you know Jesus, love Him, love your neighbor, and spread the Good News, then you can have confidence in your salvation. But if you are unsure, or you cannot remember when you last spent time with Jesus trying to get to know Him, then you may have lost the Way. Fear not, though, you can always go back to Him and He will always put you on the right path.