Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles
This Friday is an appointed feast day in the Christian calendar which honors the apostles Philip and James. The Gospel text for this day is John 14:1-14. Here we find a beautiful back and forth conversation between Jesus and his apostles, one that is particularly appropriate given our uncertain times.
Jesus begins the conversation:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?... And you know the way to where I am going.”
These words from Jesus are very reassuring but they prompt questions as well. How do we know the way? Sometimes it feels as though we are out on a path with no map or gps or tourguide to give us any clue of our next step. This was exactly Thomas' protest:
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
We always have a tendancy to want the full road map, everything spelled out in front of us. We all crave certainty and understanding. Jesus says we crave too much... he is sufficient, he is the way after all. "I'm not showing you the way, I am the way," Jesus says. "Believe in the Father and believe also in me and this ought to be enough that your hearts would not be troubled."
But questions continue... Thomas questioned the path, and now Philip questions the destination:
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
It's never quite enough for us is it? Even when Jesus comforts us and shows undying sacrifical love for us, we still want something a little more, a vision of how everything will unfold precisely. If there is anything these past few months have reminded us is that no one has a clear picture of the future. No one can tell us what the world will look like 72 hours from now let alone six months or six years from now. Scientific models, experts, pundits and professionals have all showed the limitations of human knowledge and yet we go back again and gain, "show us how this ends and then I'll be okay."
But Jesus' constant response is, "Look to me instead of the hope in this world and human understanding... look to my work on your behalf... rest in me... you don't need to know the path or find the path, I am the path, all you need to know is in your relationship with me."
The urge to know what lies around the bend in the path is understandble... we all want to plan, prepare and be ready. Yet Christ assures us of our greater home, our heavenly place prepared for us already. We will not be able to understand or anticipate every single twist and turn here on earth, and yet his assurance remains, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me." And this is enough.