4th Week of Easter (S)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Joseph Church, Ponchatoula
“Knowing” is a complicated business. For example, can know that a computer works—whether or not it works; we can know how it works and when; we can know where it works and doesn't; we may even know enough about the thing to know why it works like it does. Our varying levels of knowledge about a computer are distinguished more by kind than degree, that is, knowing more certainly that a computer is working does not increase our knowledge about how the computer works. To learn more about the how's and why's of computer technology requires a much more intimate relationship with computer science than simply knowing whether or not the thing is going to work when you turn it on. If knowing the what, how, when, and why of a computer is complicated, how much more complicated is knowing another person, or knowing God the Father? Jesus says to his disciples: “If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” What we know of the Father—who, what, when, where, why—we know b/c Jesus, His Son, has revealed Him to us. Why does it matter to us that Jesus is our window to the Father?
If God the Father had wanted to reveal Himself to His children, He could've done so in a hundred or a thousand different ways. He could've appeared to a prominent person among His people and spoken His will. He could've performed miracles or sent angels. He could've commissioned prophets to announce His plan for humanity. He could've inspired poets and priests to write down the stories of these revelations and made sure that the stories survived for centuries and millennia. And just to make absolutely sure that we had every opportunity to come to know Him best, He could've promised long ago to send us His Anointed One, His Messiah so that we could see and hear for ourselves the love He has for us. He could've done all this. And, of course, He did. Yet we still failed to come to know Him in a way that would bring us back to Him. So, He fulfilled His promise and sent us His only Son to live among us as one of us so that we might come to know everything we need to know in order to repent of our sins and receive His forgiveness.
When Jesus says to the disciples, “If you know me, then you will also know my Father,” he means exactly that. If we come to know Jesus—to plant and cultivate a relationship with the Christ—we will come into a saving knowledge of the Father. Not just a factual knowledge, not just “knowing stuff about God,” but knowing Him in a way that saves us, perfects us, and brings us back to Him more fully human than we could ever be otherwise. Knowing Christ in this way is more than merely informative; it is performative, that is, know Christ as our Savior performs our salvation, makes our redemption happen. Stories and miracles, prophets and priests can't perform or accomplish our salvation. Only an intimate relationship with God the Father through His Son in the Holy Spirit can achieve that which we long for the most: a reunion with the One who created us. This is why Jesus is astonished when Philip says, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus is disappointed, exasperated by this request. He says, in essence, “What do you mean 'show us the Father'? What do you think I've been doing these last three years?! Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? I'm not speaking my own words but the words of the Father. The Father who dwells in me and I am doing His works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. And if my word alone isn't good enough, believe me because of the work I do in His name.”
Our job is the same as Christ's. To reveal the love of God in our words and deeds, what we say and what we do. Our burden is both heavy and light. Heavy b/c we carry the responsibility of making sure that He is revealed to the whole world. Light b/c we never do this job alone. We have the whole Body of Christ, the Spirit of God, and sure knowledge that—in the end—victory goes to the Lamb who was slain for our us.
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