Reflection on the Fifth Sunday of Easter
These Easter days are so full of energy and life. The disciples are off and running to tell the various communities about Jesus and about “The Way.” The reading from Acts shows the Twelve getting organized so that the Greek-speaking widows in the community would not be neglected. The Apostles seem to understand finally. They are no longer timid.
Today’s Gospel reading takes us back to the days when Jesus was still physically present with the disciples. Philip’s request could be the request of any one of us: “Lord, show us the One who sent you,” or “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” In whatever way the request is worded, it seems to me that it says, “Show us God.”
There is that deep-down longing in us to know God. There is that drawing toward God, which keeps us seeking. There is that desire for God, which is part of our being. The longing, the drawing, the desire — all are gift from God in the first place. God dwelling within us urges us.
Our situation, of course, is different from Philip’s. He and the other Apostles had been with Jesus a lot. They had talked together, eaten together, and traveled around together. Our situation is not one of physical contact, but of standing within a long tradition of people through the centuries who came to believe what the Apostles said and what the Evangelists wrote about Jesus and about the One he called Abba.
When Philip says to Jesus, “Show us the One who sent you, show us God,” Jesus answers in the words of John the Evangelist: “I am in God and God is in me.” We do not find Jesus talking that way in Mark’s Gospel. Mark has Jesus saying at the end of his life, “God, why have you deserted me?”
Yet John’s Gospel comes from a community that for many years had pondered the reality of Jesus in their lives. They had come to believe that somehow Jesus was in their midst and in him God’s fullness dwelt. They had found Jesus to be “the Way” for them. His care for others, his concern for those who are poor, his regard for “little ones,” all these teachings of Jesus had permeated their lives with one another. Each of them could be as Jesus to the neighbor. They could be in God and God in them. We are also called to this way of being.
Show us God, we say. And Jesus tells us that God is in us and we are in God. In this wide and diverse world of ours, there are many ways to seek God, Allah, the Great Spirit. There are many ways to follow through on what one’s relationship with God asks of one. Those of us here today, however, were born into this way of Jesus and it is the way that claims us. Jesus, the Christ, is “the Way” for us.
When we say to Jesus, “Show us God,” the answer may come in the form of the next person we meet who needs something from us. A smile or a word or a listening ear — or whatever it may be. The answer may be a request to do something for the Community.
We do the best we can to respond to God within us. We want to do as Jesus did. Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do.” We know those works — works of kindness, healing, forgiveness, mercy, justice. So we move into Eucharist, into this metaphor of meal, when we are nourished and strengthened to do these works that Jesus did.