Philip Questions Jesus

After Jesus answers Thomas's question with his famous I AM statement, another disciple steps into the picture with another question. I speak here of Philip.

There have been a number of interactions with Philip in the Gospel. Philip was one of the first apostles to appear in St. John's Gospel. He was responsible for bringing his friend Nathanael to Jesus. Philip is known by his Greek name, and it is not surprising that it is some Greeks approach Jesus through Philip in chapter twelve. Philip is also the disciple who speaks up when Jesus suggests that they feed the multitude. These interactions suggest that Jesus had interacted with Philip enough to give Philip some idea of who Jesus really was. Yet chapter fourteen reveals that Philip had not caught the full impact of Jesus' person. "Master, show us the Father, 7 and that will be enough for us." (John 14:8b)

Jesus asserts that those who have seen Jesus have seen the Father. Once again, let us remember the context in which this Gospel passage is set. The Jewish Christians are fearful. The Temple has been destroyed, and they are being expelled from the synagogue. How will they be able to enter into God's presence if the Temple and synagogue are off limits to them? Jesus calms their fears by proclaiming that as long as they are in his presence, they are in the presence of the Father. The Father has sent him. He and the Father are one. In they simply believe this truth, they will encounter God in myriad ways. They need not fear.

Once again, the fourth Gospel reminds us that the true work of the disciple is the work of faith. If we but believe, we are doing the will of the Father. Faith in Jesus is the critical element in our desire to do God's will. Faith is the work of God. As the early Christian community faces the realities of persecution, martyrdom, and being expelled from the synagogue, as they face the possibility of being held up to ridicule and shame in their honor-driven society, they are simply to remember that as long as they follow the way of Jesus, they will live in truth. God is the final arbiter of true honor, and Jesus is their connection to God. Jesus has shown us the way to the Father. Jesus has given us the consolation of the truth. Jesus as shown us the way to eternal life.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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