5th Sunday of Easter-May 7, 2023

In today’s gospel Saint John tells us that, at the Last Supper, the Lord shares with his disciples that He is going to his Heavenly Father’s house, and that one day He will take them there. What should have taken the disciples by surprise is the Lord’s revelation that they had already seen the Heavenly Father. For three straight years they had been listening to the Lord talking about his Heavenly Father. His “Abba” is one of the favorite themes of the Lord’s teaching.

The disciples were convinced they had never seen the Father the Lord talked about. Philip, then, politely asks the Lord to, once for all, show the Father to them. This is a commendable wish. In fact, this is what we all want: we want to know the mystery of God. However, what Philip adds to his wish indicates a problem, the ancient problem of wanting to control God. Philip says, “and that would be enough for us”.

God wants to reveal his mystery to us. God did that through the people of Israel, and specifically in the person of his Beloved Son. Despite that, there is still a limit to what we may learn about God. God will always remain a mystery to us. What the Lord reveals to his disciples about the mystery of God is confounding: The Lord and his Heavenly Father are the same. An image that may help us illustrate the Lord’s words is the following: it is as when we see someone in a mirror, but we cannot see the person there because there is something hiding that person from our angle.

The Son of God came, in part, to satisfy our desire for knowing God. However, the knowledge we may have of the Lord is always incomplete, let alone our comprehension of the entire mystery of God, three persons, one divinity. Several centuries earlier Moses had the same impulse that Philip had. Moses asked God to reveal his name to him, which is our way of feeling we may have power over someone, our way of feeling we may control someone. God’s answer, “I am who I am” was God’s way to tell us once for all that we must stop hoping to control him. Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of the saints who was granted the grace of having a deep understanding of the mystery of God, said that in heaven we would spend eternity learning about the mystery of God. We can never have the full knowledge of God!

Let us humbly ask the Lord to grant us the grace of deepening our knowledge of him and of his Heavenly Father and to reflect this knowledge in the way we conduct our lives.