May 3, 2018 – Seeing God Face to Face
Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles
Father John Bullock, LC
John 14: 6-14
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
Introductory Prayer: Christ, I thank you for the gift of faith. You know that I believe, but I want my faith to grow. In knowing you I find meaning, rest and strength. I need you, Lord. I trust in your loving mercy. You know what I need the most today. All I ask is that you remain at my side throughout this day. That is enough for me. I want to spend this day making you happy, pleasing you with my every thought, word and action.
Petition: Christ, help me to know you and love you more each day.
1. I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Christ is the answer to our problems. Since he is fully God and fully man, his very reality unites humanity to God in a way never before hoped. It is in following Christ that we find our way. It is in believing in Christ that we discover truth. It is in accepting Christ that we gain life. Christians don’t simply follow a set of rules or believe in some doctrines, we follow a person: Christ. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote, Christ’s “doctrine was himself” (Life of Christ, p. 153).
2. Show Us the Father: “Seeing is believing”, the saying goes. Yet this seems to go contrary to the faith. Didn’t Christ tell “doubting” Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29)? Here again, Christ seems to be chiding Philip for wanting to see. However, Christ isn’t correcting Philip for wanting to see; rather, he didn’t see in Christ what he was supposed to: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” At the core of the doctrine of the Incarnation is that now the “face” of God is made visible in the person of Christ. Answering the man born blind whom he had just healed when asked who the Son of Man is, Christ said, “You have seen him” (John 9:37). The Second Council of Nicaea, in the year 787, reaffirmed against the iconoclasts the validity of using sacred images, linking religious pictures and art to the Incarnation (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 476). Man has a need to see God, and the Incarnation was God’s response.
3. Believe Because of the Works: Christ helps Philip’s faith by pointing to the works he has done. The faith cannot be proven in an empirical sense, but there can be many signs which assist our reason in that act of faith. Christ’s miracles, his moral stature, his words and ultimately his resurrection are compelling arguments in favor of the faith. Nevertheless, we must still decide to believe. Once we decide, then even greater works than Christ performed in his earthly life can be worked through us. Don’t wait to understand everything to believe, rather believe and you will begin to understand.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, let me see your face in prayer, in the Eucharist and in my neighbor. Be my way, my truth and my life. Be my model, my point of reference and my strength. Without you I can do nothing; with you I can do all things.
Resolution: I will do a conscious act of charity for my neighbor, making an effort to see Christ in others.