In this morning’s gospel Jesus is having one of those frustrating conversations with his disciple, Philip. He is talking about things that seem beyond rational comprehension however. “If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” I can see why that would be a hard concept to grasp but when Philip says to Jesus, “Show us the Father,” Jesus gets frustrated: “Have I been with you for so long a time and still you do not know me?…Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?…The Father who dwells in me is doing his works…” Poor Philip.
If even we, with 2,000 years of living in the light of Christ, still have trouble understanding the depth of the words and teachings of Jesus, how can we blame Philip for his confusion? The difficulty, of course, is like that of Nicodemus when he was trying to understand the concept of being born again on a literal, physical level. This morning Jesus is speaking about unity, about his role as an agent of revelation for the God in whom he “lived and moved and had his being” – so at one with God that God shone through his every word and deed. But the most amazing thing about this morning’s passage is that Jesus is trying to get Philip to understand that our role in life is also one of agency for God in the same way! “Whoever believes in me,” Jesus says later in the passage,” will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these…” And how will we do this? It seems to me that it will only be possible if we follow the dictum of Paul to put on the mind of Christ, in love, compassion and surrender to the best of who we are becoming. Now there’s a mighty challenge to try on for size!