Wednesday 3 May 2023 Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles
1 Corinthians 15:1-8
Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, the gospel that you received and in which you are firmly established; because the gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you – believing anything else will not lead to anything.
Well then, in the first place, I taught you what I had been taught myself, namely that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; and that he was raised to life on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared first to Cephas and secondly to the Twelve. Next he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died; then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles; and last of all he appeared to me too; it was as though I was born when no one expected it.
Psalm 18 Their word goes forth through all the earth.
Jesus said to Thomas:
‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you know me, you know my Father too. From this moment you know him and have seen him.’ Philip said, ‘Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’ ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip,’ said Jesus to him ‘and you still do not know me? ‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father, so how can you say, “Let us see the Father”?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself: it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work.
You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason. I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father.
Whatever you ask for in my name I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask for anything in my name, I will do it.’
My dear Sisters and Brothers of the Chevalier Family, particularly our beloved Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The readings of our Feast remind us that our deepest satisfaction is found in recognising the presence of God in our midst. We come as disciples of Jesus, contemplating his abundant heart which is full of the compassion and tenderness of our God. When we contemplate him we recognise in him the same presence that is his Father from whom he comes. For to see him is to see the Father. They are one so completely.
Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Since he is fully God and fully man, his very reality unites humanity to God in a way we long for so deeply. As we follow Jesus we find our way to God. As we come to know the truth of who Jesus is we discover the truth of who God is in our lives and who in turn we are ourselves. This truth of an unconditional love poured out for us in such an unconditional way enlivens, encourages, and empowers our lives. We are not people of the law, rules or doctrine, we follow a person: that is Jesus. Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote in “Life of Christ”, Christ’s “doctrine was himself”.
There is a saying that says, “Seeing is believing”. This seems to go contrary to our experience of faith in which we trust in God even when we don’t see. Jesus said to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29). In this Gospel today it seems Jesus is saying the same to Philip for wanting to see.
Philip was looking but not seeing. In English we some times say, when someone is looking for something that is very obvious and right in front of them, that “you can’t see the wood for the trees.” Jesus says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” At the core of the incarnation is the “face” of God made visible in the person of Jesus. Answering the man born blind whom he had just healed when asked who the Son of Man is, Jesus said, “You have seen him” (John 9:37). We have a need to see God, and the incarnation is God’s response to our need. To see Jesus is to see God.
Jesus helps Philip vision by pointing to the works he has done. Once we see, even greater works can be worked through us. We don’t have to wait to understand everything to see God; rather we need to love as Jesus loved and then we will know and understand the Father, who is love. Jesus, let us see your face in everything and especially in our neighbour. Be our way, our truth, and our life. Be our model, our point of reference, and our strength. Without you, we can do nothing; with you, all things are possible.