Reflection for Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year A)…
“To have seen me is to have seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).
In his book, Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict reminds us that only in Jesus can we see the true face of the Father.
While the prophets brought God’s Word to the people of Israel, and Moses spoke to God as to a friend, it was Jesus who brought God into our midst. However, it is far from easy to recognize the Father in Jesus.
We can readily identify with Philip’s request in today’s Gospel: ‘Show us the Father and then we shall be satisfied’. And, of course, the reason we don’t see the Father is that we don’t really ‘see’ Jesus any more clearly than Philip did. Even though Philip and indeed all the apostles had been Jesus’ constant companions throughout his public ministry, they were unable to recognise who he really was until their eyes were opened, when the Risen Christ himself appeared to them. Even then recognition came only gradually.
We may surmise as to what prevented the Apostles from ‘seeing’ and recognizing Jesus as the one in whom the Father was present:
– a false or inadequate image of God;
– a distorted or overly political reading of the messianic promises;
– a lack of attention to what Jesus was saying and doing;
– or, maybe they simply took it for granted that they knew him.
The question for us, of course, is do we ‘see’ Jesus as he really is? Do we enter into the presence of the Father when we meet Jesus in the Scriptures, in the Eucharist, in our daily prayer?
The Gospel today warns us against complacency. Simply because we were baptized into the Church and are practicing Catholics does not necessarily mean that we know the God revealed in Jesus. Indeed our very familiarity with Jesus may make us blind to the ‘heart-breaking strangeness’ (Patrick Kavanagh) of his person and message.
No less than Philip and the apostles, we, too, need to have our eyes and ears opened to the ‘the spirit-shocking’ power of his life and message. We need to shake off the chains of familiarity and allow the readings of this beautiful Season, ‘to charm back’ in us ‘the luxury of a child’s soul’, to use again the words of Patrick Kavanagh, and bring us to see true face of the Father revealed in Jesus.
– Fr Michael McCabe SMA
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