Lectio Divina: Sts. Philip and James, Apostles
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
we praise and thank You on the feast
of Your apostles Philip and James.
Through them many have come to know
that Jesus is alive and risen.
May we too be good witnesses
to the risen Jesus
by the way we live His risen life.
Even though we are flawed and weak,
may people find through us
the way to the Father of Jesus our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 14:6-14
Jesus said to Thomas, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it."
• Today’s Gospel, the Feast of the Apostles Philip and James, is the same one we meditated on during the 4th week of Easter. It narrates Philip’s request to Jesus: “Show us the Father, and that is enough for us.”
• John 14:6: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: Thomas had addressed a question to Jesus: “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” (Jn 14:5). Jesus answers, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” Three important words. Without the way, we cannot walk. A “way” is not only a path, but a method of performing or doing. In this case, His way is to be our way. Without the truth one cannot make a good choice. In life, things are not always what they seem to be. We can be easily deceived, especially with fake news, flawed beliefs, and the evil that still inhabits the world. It is important to focus on the Truth and not be deceived. He is the Truth. Without life, there is only death! Jesus explains the meaning. He is the way, because no one “comes to the Father except through Me”. And He is the gate through which the sheep go in and out (Jn 10:9). Jesus is the Truth because looking at Him, we are seeing the image of the Father. “If you know Me, you will know My Father also!” Jesus is Life, because walking like Jesus we will be united to the Father and will have life in us!
• John 14:7: To know Jesus is to know the Father. Thomas had asked, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus answers, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life! No one comes to the Father except through Me.” And He adds, “If you know Me, you will know My Father also. From this moment you have known Him and have seen Him.” This is the first phrase of today’s Gospel. Jesus always speaks about the Father, because it was the life of the Father that appeared in everything that Jesus said and did. This continuous reference to the Father causes Philip to ask the question.
• John 14:8-11: Philip asks, “Show us the Father and then we will be satisfied!” It was the disciples’ desire, the desire of many people within the communities of the Beloved Disciple, and it is the desire of many people today. What do people do to see the Father whom Jesus speaks of so much? Jesus’ answer is very beautiful, and it is valid even today: “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father!” People should not think that God is far away from us, at a distance and unknown. Anyone who wants to know who God the Father is, it suffices for him to look at Jesus. He has revealed Him in the words and gestures of His life! “The Father is in Me and I am in the Father!” Through His obedience, Jesus has fully identified Himself with the Father. At every moment, He did what the Father told Him to do (Jn 5:30; 8:28-29,38). This is why, in Jesus everything is the revelation of the Father! The signs or works are the works of the Father! As people say, “The son is the face of the father!” This is why in Jesus, and for Jesus, God is in our midst.
• John 14:12-14: The Promise of Jesus. Jesus says that His intimacy with the Father is not a privilege only for Him, but it is possible for all those who believe in Him. We also, through Jesus, are able to do beautiful things for others as Jesus did for the people of His time. He intercedes for us. Everything that people ask from Him, He asks the Father and obtains it always, if it is to serve. Jesus is our defender. He leaves but He does not leave us without defense. He promises that He will ask the Father and the Father will send another defender and consoler, the Holy Spirit. Jesus even said that it is necessary that He leave, because otherwise the Holy Spirit will not come (Jn 16:7). The Holy Spirit will fulfill the things of Jesus in us, if we act in the name of Jesus and observe the great commandment of the practice of love. In his recent encyclical Gaudete et exsultate, Pope Francis quotes Lumen Gentium: The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people, for “it has pleased God to make men and women holy and to save them, not as individuals without any bond between them, but rather as a people who might acknowledge him in truth and serve him in holiness”
4) For Personal confrontation
• Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. How do I define Jesus as the Way in my life? As a model of action, or a map, or something else?
• How can Jesus, as the Truth, be used in my daily life to guide me through the deceptions in the world?
• As Life, how do I use Jesus as a model for my life and decision making?
• As we read today’s Gospel, we are almost moved to say “Philip! Haven’t you been listening?”. Are there times when I don’t hear what Jesus is really telling me in my own life as well? What are some of them?
5) Concluding Prayer
The heavens declare the glory of God,
the vault of Heaven proclaims His handiwork,
day to day pours forth speech,
night to night hands on the knowledge. (Ps 19:1-2)