This is the Way
In the popular Star Wars spin-off series The Mandalorian, there’s a saying that’s repeated by some of characters, which has become a catchphrase for fans of the show: “This is the way.”
“The way” refers to a set of traditions and a code of conduct, which for “the Children of the Watch” – the group of characters who repeat the saying – is their hope of salvation and their black and white explanation for everything. The show’s main character grew up as a member of the Children of the Watch and assumed all of his people adhered to this “way” – until another prominent member of his people that he encounters later on calls “the Children of the Watch” a cult of religious zealots who divided the people. And as the show progresses, we watch as the main character is faced with choices between adhering to the rules of “the way” and pursuing what is most important – his relationships.
One of the hallmarks of cults is their divisiveness, often isolating members from their family and friends. For a Christian, the show’s choice to use the term “the way” – and other terms – has obvious Christian parallels. For example, Christian Faith was first referred to – no less than six times – in the Acts of the Apostles, as “the way.”
So in today’s Gospel, when Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life” – doesn’t it sound like Jesus is making the same kind of exclusive, divisive claims that a cult of religious zealots like “the Children of the Watch” might make?
Jesus’ claim is an all-encompassing one, yet not an “exclusive” one – because Jesus isolates no one, and chooses to remain in relationship with everyone – even with those who reject him. It can be hard for us to understand how this can be, and yet this is probably one of the most attractive things about Jesus. Our vocation then, like our faith, will only be truly Christian if it is lived out this same way. It is in the following of Jesus that we learn how to do this, because he himself is the way.