In our reading from the Gospel of John today, Jesus explains to Philip how he and God the Father are one. When Philip asks Jesus to show him the Father, Jesus responds: “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” (Jn 14:9). Even though Philip had lived with Jesus, experienced the authority of his teachings, witnessed his works of healing and exorcism, witnessed to the inclusiveness of his ministry, he, as we, struggle with comprehending what Jesus was talking about regarding the unity between God and Jesus.
One of the reasons is that God is God and we are not. God is not one being among many, he is not even the Supreme Being, nor is God even in the genus of being. God so transcends our reality and sphere of understanding that any words we say about him are going to be limited. God is Infinite Act, God simply is. We are finite. At the same time, this does not mean that God is an impersonal force. God transcends all of his creation and is the source and foundation of all that exists, yet he is closer to us than we are to ourselves, each and every one of us.
God came closer still when, in the Person of his Son, he came to dwell among us. This is what Jesus meant when he said to Philip that when he saw him he saw God. Each person, God the Father and God the Son are distinct but because of their infinite essence they are also, as we say in the Nicene Creed each Sunday, consubstantial, they are of one and the same substance.
The Son came to be one with us while remaining fully divine and in full communion with his Father, so we can be one with him and experience the intimate relationship that they share. We participate in the life of Jesus because he became human, and as human beings, God created each of us as being interconnected with one another. So what happens to one of us, happens to all of us.
Through our Baptism and participation in the Sacraments, we participate and become conformed to the Body of Christ so to encounter Jesus in ever deeper intimacy and share in the divine Communion between God the Father and God the Son, the Love that is shared between them who is God the Holy Spirit.
The wonderful gift of relational communion with the Holy Trinity, is not just for us alone as some treasure to sit on, as some secret knowledge to be shared with only a few chosen ones. This is a universal message to be shared with all. As we grow in our relationship and participation with God, we are to make him known to others. We are able to do so through our participation in the life of Jesus. As Jesus said to Philip, “[W]hoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father” (Jn 14:12). Jesus seeks to work, love, and serve through us as the Father did through him.
That may sound intimidating, but each of us is given a particular charism, a ministry of service to build up the kingdom of God. The key is to believe in Jesus and seek his guidance so that he can help us to discern how best we can serve him and build up his Body. Those we call saints were those who came to know that one thing that God called them to do. They then surrendered all to their vocation. This is not just for clergy or religious, this is for each and every person on this planet. The only requirement is that we are willing to follow Jesus, say yes to the invitation to experience the love of the Holy Spirit he freely offers, and be willing to be sent to allow God to happen in our interactions with one another. In so doing, we find meaning and fulfillment in our lives.
Embrace today the reality that the God of all creation loves each and every one of us more than we can ever imagine. Embrace the unique relationship he calls us to participate in, which is a share in his Trinitarian Communion. Embrace this unique blessing so we can open our hearts and minds to the service and ministry he calls us to through our participation in the life of Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, through the Love of the Holy Spirit.
Photo Credit: Photo I took of St Mother Teresa in Massachusetts early 90’s