SFX Bulletin, 18th May 2014: Very few would deny God’s existence outright. Many may doubt institutionalized religion but admit the certainty of God. This certainty however, is often accompanied by the question of whether as mortal man, one can ever see or know God as we see and know another person.
Jesus’ conversation with his disciples in today’s gospel affirm this intimate encounter with God as a real possibility. In response to Philip’s request, “Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied” (v.8). Jesus responded, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? To have seen me is to have seen the Father” (v.8-9).
Today, Jesus, too, invites us to have faith that he is God. It is because Jesus is one of the three persons of the Trinitarian God that he is able to reveal God to man so intimately in his incarnation. In this way, Jesus is truly “...the Way, the Truth and the Life” who brings us to God the Father.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that through Jesus, God’s “invisibility” has ended, “The New Testament puts an end to the Father's invisibility. God has shown his face, as Jesus’ answer to the Apostle Philip confirms: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). With his Incarnation, death and Resurrection, the Son of God has freed us from the slavery of sin to give us the freedom of the children of God and he has shown us the face of God, which is love: God can be seen, he is visible in Christ” (Angelus,22 May 2011).
Jesus not only showed us the face of God to “proof” God’s existence. More importantly, he opened the way to eternal life for all of mankind. Through Baptism, everyone can share in God’s Trinitarian life. Baptism cleanses us of our sins making us holy and fit to be indelibly “marked with God’s name” (CCC2159). To emphasise God’s desire for all to be baptized, Pope Francis humorously said he would even baptize Martians, adding, “Who am I to admit impediments? The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God in the Church…You cannot understand the Church of Jesus without this Paraclete…We Christians must ask the Lord for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit… who speaks to us in the Church’s life, in Christian communities, who is always speaking to us” (Holy Mass, 12 May, 2014).
In these words, our Holy Father also emphasized that seeking God requires a faith community - principally the Church and her ministries - to grow in faith and knowledge of God.
This communitarian aspect of faith is highlighted in today’s first reading. Filled with the Spirit, the Twelve wisely discerned that their rightful duty was to prayerfully study the word of God. They did not neglect the equally important work of mercy of providing food fairly for the widows and allotted that to seven selected deacons.
We are in a faith community of learning and growing into Christ and God. Everyone has a part to play in helping each other build up the church – there are no spectator seats in the house of God. St. Peter emphasized this communitarian aspect of faith in saying, “…you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pt. 2:9).
If we still perceive God as “invisible” and unknown to us, may Jesus’ words today confirm for us that we can see God in him. Today, Jesus remains with us in his glorified body in the Eucharist. He gives himself to us so that together with him, “the precious cornerstone”, we become his “living stones” – “making a spiritual house” (1 Pt. 2:6-7) called Church. It is through us, the members of the Church, that others will, in turn, come to see the face of God.