Reflection for Sunday – May 14, 2017
Readings: Acts 6:1-7; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12
Preacher: Sr. Kathleen Wayne RSM
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Apostle Philip—perhaps because I have a nephew who bears the name; or maybe because of the few, but thought-provoking statements attributed to him in the Gospels. While we do not know much about Philip historically, upon reflection, he can teach us a great deal.
An interesting fact about Philip is that he was personally reached by Jesus himself. While Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, no one brought Philip to Jesus. Instead, Jesus came right to him. John’s Gospel tells us, Jesus found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.”
Normally God reaches people through people, but Philip was an exception to the rule. This makes his statement to Jesus in today’s Gospel startling. “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” How is it that someone who was personally chosen by Jesus could make such a statement? Wasn’t he listening as Jesus taught? Were his eyes and heart closed? Can’t you just feel the pain in Jesus’ response? “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?” But Jesus doesn’t give up; with actions and words, he explained again and again. “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust, have faith, I will be with you, I am the Way.” And Philip responded by following.
The Easter season is filled with powerful stories of ordinary people encountering God through the words and actions of the Risen Christ and those who followed him:
Mary of Magdala—“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”
“Thomas, put your fingers here…do not be unbelieving, but believe. My Lord and my God.”
“Were not our hearts burning within us as he spoke to us?”
“The shepherd calls his own sheep by name…they follow because they know his voice.”
“The community of believers was of one heart and one mind…dividing their property according to need.”
Peter—“God raised Jesus, of this we are all witnesses.”
Like Philip they help us to make sense of our own journey. How did we come to follow the Lord? Was it through the witness of parents and family, a friend or coworker, teachers, preachers or an experience that so profoundly touched our heart that we just knew we needed to discover more about the One who reached out and touched us? Who shares the journey with us, keeping us grounded and focused as we strive to be people of faith in a world where chaos, confusion and rejection troubles our mind and heart? How do we keep our eyes, ears and hearts open to and aware of the “God moments” we encounter that reveal the Father and calm our troubled heart?
When we are honest, can’t each of us admit there have been situations and periods of confusion when we want to just stand up to Jesus and say “Come on, show us the Father. That will be enough. Then I will be okay, then I can trust enough to know what to do, how to respond, who to believe.”
We get caught up in the complaining that happens when things don’t go as we think they should. We can easily forget that we have been called out of darkness into God’s wonderful light. Today let the witness of Philip be a source of courage for us. He was bold, willing to confront Jesus with the words and thoughts we often hold in our hearts.
With Philip, we have been called by name to follow Jesus. Our baptism began the journey of coming to know Jesus and his story. We are surrounded and supported by a community of faith-filled disciples and we gather around the table to be fed with the very Body and Blood of Christ.
Let us stand confidently to be blessed and sent forth to boldly proclaim the Gospel with our lives remembering that Jesus patiently walks with us revealing the Father, calming our troubled hearts, strengthening our feeble faith and challenging us open our eyes and hearts to respond to all who need to touch the mercy and love of God.