Feast of Saints Philip and James, apostles
(I Corinthians 15:1-8; John 14:6-14)
Saul, the first king of Israel, was recognized for his good looks. He is introduced in the Bible in this way: “There was no Israelite handsomer than Saul; he stood head and shoulders above the people” (I Sam 9:2b). One commentator says that his demeanor was what most recommended him to be king. In contrast, nothing is said in Scripture of how Jesus looked. Nothing. Yet he tells Philip in today’s gospel that anyone who sees him, sees God the Father.
Philip is asking for a theophany. He wants an experience of God like Moses had at the burning bush. He expects to see something that would be called “awesome” today. Jesus corrects his largely mistaken notion that the experience of God is always earth-shaking. When he identifies seeing the Father with seeing himself, he has his self-sacrificing love in mind. Jesus preaches, teaches, and most of all lives this love. That is what his Father, as well, is all about.
Philip is no slower learner than we are. We too often look for a revelation of God in fantastic ways. The truth is that God reveals Himself to us daily. He appears every time someone goes out of her way to help another. When we perform such acts, we become His angels.