Thursday, May 3, 2012

Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, apostles (I Corinthians 15:1-8; John 14:6-14) Try standing on one foot with your eyes closed. If you last fifteen seconds, consider your balance remarkable. Eyes open and focused make the same feat easy. As sight enhances balance, Jesus' disciples need a new vision to understand what he is talking about in today’s gospel. The reading begins with Jesus responding to Thomas' remark that since the disciples do not know where Jesus is going, how can they know the way? He tells Thomas and the others that he is the way to the Father because he is in the Father and the Father is in him. Then Philip, whose feast day we are celebrating, comments in an equally obtuse way that showing them the Father would be all that is needed. But it is obvious that Jesus’ followers require the Holy Spirit to comprehend that Jesus and the Father are one. (This happens at the end of the gospel when Thomas exclaims to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.) The Spirit provides us with a new way of seeing. It is like a physician having a MRI when making a diagnosis or a soldier having a night vision device on midnight patrol. Its presence allows us to accept Jesus' teaching as not so much demanding as life-giving and then to turn to him in our need.